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April 5, 2023

The growth of Eco-packaging: An interview with EcoEnclose CEO Saloni Doshi

Eco-packaging companies are on the rise

Technews180 sits down for an interview with Saloni Doshi, CEO of eco-friendly packaging company EcoEnclose. Sustainability has gone from a static word to a verb, and its usage has brought about demands and a call for awareness. In an interview with Technews180, Saloni Doshi reveals how EcoEnclose has met this challenge.

As sustainable packaging has gained popularity, so have society's demands. Sustainability as a concept is becoming increasingly important to customers and organizations, and with it, the challenges and opportunities these companies encounter become greater. We sat down and discussed the topic with Saloni Doshi, CEO at EcoEnclose.

How does EcoEnclose define "sustainable packaging"?

EcoEnclose believes in a future where humans and the earth are thriving together and where leading eCommerce brands are a sustainable and regenerative force for the environment. We use our work in e-commerce and retail packaging as our opportunity to make this positive impact. We have two main components of our vision for sustainable packaging: maximizing circular materials and using regenerative input materials.

Producing circular packaging means that input materials used to make packaging are made from as much recycled content as possible and that the final piece of packaging we produced is designed in a way that makes it actually recyclable at the end of its useful life - usually when a consumer recycles it. A circular economy helps us to reduce the amount of pressure and strain we put on our natural resources and land- by using waste materials, and we eliminate the need to pull from the environment for more petroleum or paper products. Using recycled materials instead of brand-new (virgin) materials can often reduce the carbon footprint of a material drastically! Using recycled content also allows us to support the recycling industry, which ultimately leads to better recycling collection and sorting and more and more materials being redirected from the landfill into new products. Where we must use virgin materials, we focus on regenerative (net positive) source materials whose existence positively impacts the environment and climate change.

We use our Sustainable Packaging Framework to help us prioritize the materials we choose to use and products we choose to create. This framework challenges us to take into account several areas of impact: circularity, end of life, carbon footprint, impact on land use and biodiversity, supply chain ethics and footprint, and continuous improvement, among others.

Our headquarters in Louisville, Colorado, Saloni Doshi
Our headquarters in Louisville, Colorado, Saloni Doshi

What is algae ink? How is it obtained?

Black ink is on almost everything. Unfortunately, most black pigment is made with carbon black and is generated from fossil fuels.

Algae Ink™ is here to change this standard. It is a revolutionary ink developed and created by Living Ink Technologies that uses algae cells for pigments, making it safer and cleaner to work with and more compatible with the recycling and composting process. These algae cells come from a nutraceutical waste stream in California, which also reduces the impact of this input material.

Algae Ink is a carbon-negative ink, sequestering more carbon in a stable and long-lasting form than is used in its production. Every 45 pounds of Algae Ink we produce keeps 22.5 pounds of petroleum (crude oil) from being used. That means that 22.5 pounds of oil can't negatively impact our environment or air.

Additionally, because our ink is carbon negative, using a 45-pound bucket of Algae Ink can remove -59 kg of carbon dioxide- or like planting four trees! Algae Ink has more bio-renewable content than any other ink on the market. Today, Algae Ink can replace standard carbon black across a variety of applications and industries. Read on to see how Algae Ink changes the future of packaging, apparel, and durable goods.

At EcoEnclose, we closely worked with Living Ink to commercialize this ink to be used in high-volume, industrial settings and have a much wider-reaching impact. To date, we've introduced it on our custom-printed and stock packaging and offer it to our customers at price parity to standard, carbon-black ink in order to further push this innovative technology forward!

A 100% recycled, custom-sized box printed with black algae ink, Saloni Doshi
A 100% recycled, custom-sized box printed with black algae ink, Saloni Doshi
Stio-Mailer-100%recycled: Stio's custom-printed polymailer, made with 100% recycled content (50% post-consumer waste) in the USA, Saloni Doshi
The ReEnclose Mailer, our reusable mailer for ecommerce

What is your take on the Tote bag trend among millennials? Does it really contribute to a more sustainable environment?

We are often asked: is reusable packaging always more sustainable than single-use packaging? This is the million-dollar question! As with all things related to sustainability, the answer is - it depends.

Totes and reusable bags or packaging options growing in popularity is incredibly exciting for a few reasons! The first is that their existence can have a cultural impact, encouraging more and more people to reduce and reuse. Another exciting development in the world of textiles is that we're becoming better and better at producing textiles from recycled materials, using low-impact feedstock crops, and recycling textiles back into themselves.

Reusable packaging can be a great alternative to single-use, but we find that, in terms of carbon footprint, the positive impact of reusable packaging (like tote bags) only occurs once that packaging has been used many, many times! While plastic and paper packaging is more likely to end up as a waste product faster than a reusable bag is, those materials also require much less energy, input material, and water to produce than textiles require. Determining the impact of a reusable packaging option often comes back to the fabric that's used- various textiles often come with their own environmental pros and cons. Choosing to use recycled textiles, or non-woven recycled plastic, to produce reusable bags and totes is often the lowest impact option. There are many apparel brands that are leading the way in this innovation, and sustainability analysis and resources from organizations like Textile Exchange are helpful in assessing the lowest-impact materials to use.

In order to help our customers who are considering whether to switch from single-use to reusable e-commerce mailers, for example, we created this Reusable Mailers Sustainability calculator to help assess whether moving from single-use packaging to reusable is more environmentally friendly. We also give guidance on the number of times that a reusable mailer would need to be used in order to have a net positive impact compared to a single-use packaging option.

At EcoEnclose, we offer a take-back program, where we will textile-recycle damaged our ReEnclose mailers, which are also made from 100% recycled fabric. This helps us to make these mailers in a way that is low impact and aligns with our vision of materials circularity.

Stock-Mailer-Algae: EcoEnclose stock 100% recycled paper mailers, printed with algae ink
Stock-Mailer-Algae: EcoEnclose stock 100% recycled paper mailers, printed with algae ink

In your view, how can eco-friendly packaging be made more accessible?

This is an excellent question. Historically, the way we've been told to reduce the impact of packaging on the planet is through individual consumer actions. This puts a lot of responsibility on the consumer to negate the impact of packaging materials but doesn't address the amount of impact that went into making that packaging in the first place!

While this plays a very large role in the overall impact of packaging, perhaps the best way to radically improve packaging at a much larger scale is through the buy-in and innovation of brands and corporations using it. If brands around the world committed to procuring and using packaging that's made with as high levels of recycled content as possible, the net environmental impact of packaging would reduce drastically. By utilizing waste materials, brands (and, in effect, individuals) put their purchasing power behind circular systems and materials and, at the same time, positively impact the forests and drilling plots of land around the world that are currently exploited for these materials.

At EcoEnclose, we're always incredibly excited about the impact that moving from virgin materials to recycled materials has on the Earth, but also for the companies who have invested in this change. We're lucky to work with thousands of brands who are incredibly passionate and dedicated to doing business better and using our circular packaging. Their commitment is what allows us to make change happen on a larger scale: by testing and increasing the kinds and amount of recycled materials used in our products, innovating and incentivizing our industry to become excellent at using recycled materials as feedstock, and building a more robust recycling system.

In 2022 alone, our EcoAlly community of brands had a huge collective impact by choosing our recycled packaging over the same packaging made with virgin materials: diverting 4.2 million pounds of paper and 6.5 million pounds of plastic from landfills and giving it new life. We're deeply proud of the brands we work with and the collective, positive impact we've been able to make through making these switches for products that, for most companies, are a requirement for selling their products!

Kriti Swarup
Kriti Swarup
Content Writer at TechNews180
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