Dealing respectfully with those who produce what we need on a daily basis. That is Oxfam Fair Trade’s core business. But we also like to go beyond mere fair trade. Righteous sustainability also implies respect for the planet. Therefore we clad our products in sustainable jackets, whenever we can.
Oxfam Fair Trade wants to wrap its products as sustainably as possible. But what does ‘as sustainably as possible’ exactly mean? So far, there is no packaging that does not affect the environment. Every kind of packaging has its own advantages and disadvantages. A packaging that offers the best preservation is not always the healthiest option or the easiest to use. Most of the sustainable packaging is not necessarily the best guarantee for the product’s quality.
In making its choices Oxfam Fair Trade keeps a close watch on the evolutions of packaging, disposal problem, recycling and of technical innovations. As our knowledge of the matter evolves, so does our strategy for implementing it. Meanwhile the main guidelines we impose on ourselves are crystal clear.
We convert to those kinds of packaging that are made of as much recycled material as possible. Apart from that we opt for packagings that are made of maximally recyclable, preferably renewable raw materials.
These are the first results of our choices.
Our new liquid organic honey from Nicaragua comes in a bottle made of a 100 % recycled PET. It is also called PCR or ‘Post-Consumer Resin’. Moreover, this kind of PET is in itself easier to recycle than any other variant.
Organically based Tetra: renewable cartons
They are easy to use, take up little space in your pantry and protect their contents against light and air. Cartons are omnipresent for a good reason, in particular as a packaging for drinks. On top of that they are true recycling champions: in Belgium 97 % of the Tetra Paks are recycled. Only glass bottles match this figure.Sadly, classical cartons still contain a lot of plastic. That is why Oxfam Fair Trade converts to organically based Tetra. The very same packaging, but made of more than 80 % renewable, plant-based materials and PFAS free. On top that an independent life cycle analysis shows that the new packaging emits 28 % less CO2 than the old ones.
But aren’t glass bottles more sustainable to begin with? It is not that simple: even though glass is in itself more recyclable, it leads to a higher CO2-emission, mainly due to its transport: glass bottles are heavier than cartons and one lorry can carry fewer of them.
Circular packaging is the future!
As we are busy working on our own packagings, we are also striving for a better policy in the domain. The government has to make circular packaging the norm and support re-use. Legislation backs new technology, thus speeding up the affordability of environmentally friendly packaging.
Juice and cane sugar in a sugar cane pack
The Tetra Pak of your orange juice and Worldshake juice still consists of 75 % paper from sustainably managed woods (FSC-carton). Now, on top of that, the organic plastic top and outer layer are made of sugar cane – or to be precise: of the remains of the extraction of sugar out of cane. For the time being, the only non-plant-based material is the inner aluminium layer, which is still required for the juice to be preserved long enough.
From now on the Oxfam Fair Trade cane sugar also comes in an organically based Tetra Pak, instead of the classical plastic bag. Eco and also a lot easier to use in the kitchen. This packaging is even more recyclable, because the preservation of sugar does not require an aluminium layer.
Further steps planned
At this very moment Oxfam Fair Trade is working on a plan with the clear ambition to convert systematically to 100 % re-usable or renewable packagings.
These are the best evolved conversions so far:
- Compostable foil: the packaging of our pralines entirely consists of carton, except for the plastic foil. Very soon we will be replacing this by a variant that can just be thrown onto the compost heap. Also the chocolate truffles and figurines for Saint Nicholas will evolve in the same direction this year.
- Aluminium-free coffee packaging: it is not so easy to preserve coffee in a packaging without an aluminium layer. But we are working on it and we do all we can to make our first steps in the direction this year.
- Teabags without plastic or aluminium: we are looking into more sustainable ways to package our tea all the while ensuring the same preservability and quality.