In early days, all packaging was sustainable as that was the only type that was available – but that also meant that food spoilt more easily. Humanity developed some cool tricks to keep their food fresh even with these added difficulties. For a very long time it was normal to ship spices in burlap sacks and this is even done today (only for some spices though). Reusable barrels, bags, paper wrappers and all sorts were the norm. It was effective albeit tedious, costly and inefficient in handling.
With the advent of plastics half a century ago, things changed drastically and global trade benefited massively from the optimisation in shipping and handling. Furthermore, the recent E-Commerce boom added to this – a lot of packaging is used, wasted and is difficult to recycle. This fills up landfills and has socio-economic impacts. Talk about plastics in the sea!
From the very beginning of the concepts of Gipfelhirsch, it was always clear to us that we need to be responsible with how we set up our sustainability. As a company and role model, we ought to reduce our impact as much as possible so that we can grow without impacting our environment too much. We have designed our product sourcing, production, shipping and overall approach around sustainability – not that we can be perfect, but that we can continuously improve and become better!
Our jars are the core to our beliefs. The one thing that we keep seeing in stores is that you can get these tiny glass jars with plastic lids on – only to be thrown in the trash (or better into the glass recycling bins). Alternatively, shops offer plastic containers. They are generally single use only. All of these packaging methods are energy intensive to recycle and do not advocate a reuse approach; the end user isnt asked to make an effort.
Our approach is different – we purposefully chose packaging that can and should be reused. The production is kept local to Europe, where the main market for Gipfelhirsch lies. The cork closures are made from replenishable resources and can be reused, recycled or composted.
The refillers are a big deal. In our efforts to reduce waste, sending of heavy jars to and from isn’t the most effective. This is why we offer refiller pouches with all the same awesome spices inside. This means you can order the refillers (with free postage in Switzerland, mind you) and then refill your own jars. And if you want you can use your own design of spice jars! The flexibility is all yours.
The Shipping Boxes
By now you probably have seen a trend – we aim to make our packaging flexible and reuse as much as we can. This is especially true for your parcels – we reuse the packaging that we received our raw materials in as much as possible. Not only is this a cost saving effort but really puts us ahead in our packaging material usage. Not only is the reuse of our packaging material lean but it is effective. Our bulk orders are commonly made from reused and upcycled cardboard boxes and we have received positive feedback with this approach. We couldn’t be happier!
Our Sustainable Operations
Sustainability is a buzzword these days, and rightfully so. What hasn’t been a focus in recent decades becomes more and more important these days. The reduction of material usage in our operations is our part to save the environment – one reused cardboard box at a time. It is simple really: the more we can reuse our stuff, the less we have to put it back into the recycling loop. This means we get away with minimal amounts of trash. Where we do have to recycle we do it with heart: according to the local regulations and with thought put into it – splitting plastics, cardboard, paper, and all sorts to put the materials back into the life cycle the correct way.
As spice people we have to care about the planet, on which our spices grow. We also care about the efficient running of our business that goes hand in hand with this sustainability. What every child learns in kindergarden: we must reduce, reuse, recycle and this is how we do it:
Firstly, we want to reduce our impact as much as possible. We only use what is necessary and dont keep a lot of spares of anything. In manufacturing terms this is the ‘just in time production’ approach, where we keep our local storage small and lean and thereby reducing waste.
Secondly, we reuse: Most companies reuse pallettes and other storage material again. We also reuse bigger boxes, that were used to deliver the jars and other raw materials. We also copied our spice acestors and use reusable containers for airtight storage of our raw materials. We use food-safe, air tight PP containers but keep using them again and again. When we do deliver larger quantities in these buckets, we refill them again, once the customer is done with them. This keeps our products fresh and safe but means we reuse pretty much everything we have.
Thirdly, we recycle. and that’s the easy one. We recycle more than we throw away. All of the paper fillers we receive, we reuse again for our shipments. This is a no brainer for us – what we cannot reduce, or reuse, we recycle. And really, that’s the right thing to do. We have an obligation, both personally and professionally, and we live by these standards. We even neatly stack our paper bundles, as is the way to do in Switzerland!
All of this is why Gipfelhirsch has joined Slash Packaging – a directory of brands that take sustainable packaging and seriously. Think of a /packaging page as the equivalent of an /about page but with transparency and information about how we do business and exist as an e-commerce brand. This helps set expectations of you, the customer, and shows you that we want to reduce our footprint and yet be successful. Find out more about /packaging here.