"Life is too precious to be wasted, and so is packaging." TIPA, a sustainable solution provider, produces packaging that biodegrades into quality compost. The company that made composting packaging possible at home had an open and honest conversation with Technews180. Through an interview with the CEO and co-founder of TIPA, Daphna Nissenbaum, we take a peek at how the company leaves its sustainable traces in the fashion and food industries - its successes so far and challenges ahead.
TIPA’s mission is to create packaging solutions that have the same end-of-life as organic matter while maintaining the qualities of conventional plastic packaging; The packaging we create biodegrades into quality compost after use, just like an orange peel.
TIPA’s packaging materials are all fully compostable and are ranging between 20-80% bio-based. The remaining percentage is made of fully compostable fossil-based polymers.TIPA is always looking for ways to use more bio-based material, but never at the expense of the packaging’s end-of-life.TIPA’s packaging has all the certificates from globally established agencies, which adhere to the highest quality requirements of compostable certifications: TUV AUSTRIA, OK compost HOME, TÜV, DIN CERTCO, BPI, ABA, and Cré.
To be considered compostable and get these certifications, the product must undergo testing that examines its compostable materials, intermediates, additives, and composition at the end of the process.
Our customers are happy with the services TIPA provides, often sharing positive comments or experiences. It is important to receive feedback as we work with a wide-ranging portfolio of customers from the food and fashion industries.
One to highlight in particular is Riverford Organics, an organic grower of fresh produce which it packages together into veg boxes for its customers. The organization replaced one million of its plastic bags with our compostable packaging.
Riverford approached TIPA with a need for an environmental solution due to the damaging impact of plastic packaging on the environment. Our compostable packaging solution is also aligned with Riverford’s ethos of being as natural as possible.
Today, we still work extensively with Riverford Organics, and the company has spoken positively about switching to our product.
Once packaging is required by a customer, we must check if it holds the idea that the R&D team presented to him; for example, a tensile test is conducted to determine the mechanical properties of the film, like strength and elasticity. It’s a destructive test that determines how much force the film can withstand before failure; there are materials that will break immediately with no plastic deformation, while others that are flexible may experience several deformations before failure. In another test, light transmittance, we measure the amount of light that passes through a transparent material; the higher the value of light transmittance - the higher the degree of clarity of the material.
Both of these are in addition to many other tests we conduct to ensure the quality of our material, as well as being in line with our compostable certifications, such as EN 13432 and TÜV OK Compost Home.
Plastic is durable and economical and has been the golden material for decades. It forms part of almost every product and is exactly what has propelled us toward the plastic crisis and our over-reliance on this material.
Although compostable materials cost more for manufacturers and brands to adopt, the price of destroying the environment will be much higher. More and more companies are understanding this and switching to compostable materials.
There is a growing demand for compostable packaging by customers; we heard that from many of our customers, and a survey we conducted revealed that 89 percent of people want products packaged in compostable packaging, and 72 percent are even willing to pay more for plastic alternatives.
Eco-conscious consumers are more aware than ever of the effects of flexible plastic packaging on the planet, and with compostable packaging already available on the market, it makes sense for businesses to adopt them.
In countries like Italy, compostable packaging is exempted from paying some taxes;
In France, Italy, and even China, and certain states in India, the usage of compostable packaging for certain applications is mandatory;
In Washington State and California, certain laws promote the usage of compostable packaging;
In multiple other countries, from Australia to the EU, we expect to see more laws and regulations that would support a broader market uptake of compostable packaging as an important step to eliminate certain types of hard-to-recycle plastics and replace those with compostable packaging.
TIPA mainly works with the food and fashion industries. Compostable packaging is particularly useful for food products as the packaging can compost alongside food scraps.
Our bestseller material is home compostable and can be added to your customers’ garden compost along with food scraps to biodegrade into nutrient-rich compost.
There are already manufacturing procedures in place that have made the transition to compostables easier, and many brands have been very forthcoming in embracing the alternative. Companies such as Riverford Organics, Waitrose Duchy Organic, and Natoora all work with us in Europe, using our compostable packaging.
More than a quarter of the plastic created globally is used in the fashion industry, and much of this is flexible packaging, which cannot be recycled and will forever stay in landfills and in our oceans. Also, due to the prevalence of e-commerce, the amount of plastic packaging used to carry clothes in transit is increasing; this has extremely damaging consequences for the environment.
The industry, especially the fast fashion brands, is using lots of plastics in their textiles as well, and changing that is a huge issue of its own. The least and easiest thing these brands – and others – can do to reduce their carbon footprint - is to switch to compostable packaging. And with the same qualities that conventional plastic packaging has come to be associated with, like printability and transparency, our packaging does not require any significant changes from the business.
TIPA is focusing more on this industry throughout 2023 and beyond, as it is a sector that would really benefit from alternatives to traditional plastic packaging.
Within the fashion industry, our customers include Gabriela Hearst, Far Afield, and The Nines.
What goes around comes back around, and packaging is not an exception. As TIPA underlines, our environment is a long-term investment, and the expensive sustainable decisions we make today will cost us less tomorrow. Thanks to TIPA, fully compostable packaging is a home solution today. Taking advantage of it is up to us as a society and as individuals. As of tomorrow, we can only speculate about the future that awaits us - based on the decisions we make today.