The Better Packaging Co.: Sustainable solutions for the new eco-nomy
After years working in the ecommerce industry, the founding duo of Better Packaging Co., Kate and Rebecca, soon became aware of the amount of plastic waste the industry was generating. As co-founder Rebecca Percasky explains: “65 billion parcels are sent every year worldwide and ecommerce is growing 50% every two years. It became really apparent that along with that growth there was a phenomenal amount of additional packaging that was being generated.”
“It made us feel sick thinking about all that additional waste. We knew there must be a better way.”
It was this sentiment that saw the two founders set out to source a sustainable solution and they simply couldn’t find anything in the market. After 18 months of research, designing and bringing suppliers together to make different products, the first certified home compostable courier satchel was created and it “sold out within two weeks.”
“It’s a testament to how much people care and how passionate they are. That’s what's been most exciting is that there are so many people who care about the environment and want to make a change. They are looking for solutions but if there's not an option, it's difficult. We're making it easy for people to make better choices.”
Breaking through the noise to find a truly sustainable solution
A big part of the typical startup story is the learning curve. In the case of the Better Packaging Co., it was navigating a consumer landscape rife with ‘greenwashing’. This required a lot of research in the early stages to disseminate what is actually ‘sustainable.’ Not too dissimilar to many startups, the path the founders ended up on wasn’t necessarily the path they initially envisioned.
“It's been a real evolution of ‘what is sustainability?’ The first year was spent trying to break through all the noise and find what a sustainable product looked like. It's not just the end of life that matters, the sourcing, manufacturing process and how it gets used all need to be factored in as well.”
“We believe that the products we have at the moment are the most sustainable option on the market. They're not perfect, we know that we can improve them, we're constantly trying to evolve and make them better, so we're still on that journey.”
In fact, at this stage of the journey, Rebecca estimates their packaging has avoided approximately 80 tonnes of waste going to landfill.
“In the beginning we'd be told something was sustainable and then we'd do our due diligence and discover it wasn't. We would always advise to make sure you include sustainability from the ground up, do your homework and work with the right partners.” Enter OFX, a global money transfer specialist that could help the company manage their global operations once their products started drawing greater international attention.
How the Better Packaging Co. found the right partner without even looking
Finding the right partners and integrating them into the businesses process from the ground up is key to a successful startup. For the team at the Better Packaging Co., the partnership with OFX occurred organically, when they weren’t even aware it could be the solution they needed.
“I didn't know that something like that [OFX] existed. At that point we were going through our banks and getting charged extra. It was a light bulb moment for us. It's literally saved us thousands of dollars, it's been a game changer.”
In the three years since their launch, and only 12 months since the launch of their first product, the company has grown rapidly to meet an increasing demand for sustainable packaging solutions and are now operating a truly global business. Along with their headquarters in New Zealand, they have operations in Australia and international warehouses, as well as suppliers in China, who are “leading the way in the bioplastics industry”.
Operating five overseas warehouses has also meant juggling five different currencies, something which OFX have been able to support with. “We needed a solution that would work for us and OFX has been amazing. It’s saved us thousands of dollars, it’s almost too good to be true.”
As a business moving so rapidly, Rebecca realised the simplicity in using OFX outweighed the process of going through a bank. “It's been incredibly easy to use. If I do a deal today, then I know that it'll go through overnight and my supplier will get it tomorrow.
“That's really powerful, other money transfers can take days and because we are always pushing ourselves those days really make a difference.”
With the Australian dollar quite weak against the US dollar right now, Rebecca says that hedging solutions are in the cards should the markets shift in the other direction.
In the meantime, however, as the business expands there’s a greater focus on creating new solutions, increasing automation and simply getting ‘better’.
“Our main focus is to make our products better. We've called the company the ‘Better Packaging Co., because we know we can do better.”