Year after year, the Australian charity Plastic Free July® sets to raise awareness for the problem of plastic pollution via a campaign of the same name.
One that’s also quite popular on social media.
For us at Kildwick, plastic is a recurring topic as well.
Be it for hygienic, functional, or production reasons: we still can't completely quit it.
Here's our honest progress report for 2021.
Going plastic-free is one of the most emotionally charged topics in the green community, and for very good reasons.
'We can’t be plastic-free yet’
Each one of us has probably heard this or a similar-sounding sentence from a (sustainable) company at some point.
The reasons why do sound very similar and sometimes more, sometimes less plausible: plastic is considered hygienic, light, stable and recyclable, among other things.
So it’s inevitable?
We at Kildwick are known for our birchwood dry toilets. Sounds awesome, right?
But there’s more to it.
No plastic to see here? The wholesome Kildwick concept
When our Leipzig team had started to redesign Kildwick’s original dry toilets, sustainability was our primary goal.
Regional production is another important matter that defines most, if not all, of our decisions.
And so, from the very beginning the following elements have been plastic-free and/ or designed to reduce plastic pollution:
- Birchwood toilet bodies, bamboo or birchwood toilet seats
- Preferably cardboard or metal for product packaging
- The wooden parts are wrapped with cardboard sleeves
- Only paper tape used for parcels
- Paper/ documentation printing is reduced, e.g., invoices, delivery notes etc. are sent out digitally
We also discarded the original separators right from the start, as their material, glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, effectively made them special waste.
Our separators today are made of recyclable plastic — for a slew of reasons.
After all, hardly any company can manage production and shipping entirely without any plastics.
No plastic alternatives - not always a good idea
In our company, we are still using plastic for a number of purposes. And for a variety of reasons. Which are:
- Production processes of suppliers
- Cost factor
- Weight (in relation to CO2 emissions during transport)
For example, there are certain products with strict hygiene regulations.
The manufacturers of such products are simply obliged to, say, weld their bamboo toilet seats in plastic.
On top of that, certain small items, such as stainless-steel rods, are already supplied by the manufacturer in small plastic bags — simply due to the production processes.
Two more examples:
The tension belts of our HappyLoo are made of plastic. We could replace them with plastic-free, compostable material that has comparable properties. But the price for the end product would hence skyrocket to such an extent that it would become disproportionately expensive.
Last but not least, the liquid detergents or the wood glue could be filled in glass bottles. However, the weight would make shipping more expensive. But also more damaging to the environment due to the extra packaging with no plastic.
Because of reasons like these, plastic alternatives are not always a suitable solution...
The use of plastics: our criteria and the outlook
Let's sum it up:
While we’ve been able to successfully reduce plastic waste in many areas or to go entirely plastic-free from the start, in other areas we can’t quit them (yet).
Until now, there is simply no plastic alternative better in this area.
As bitter as this may sound for someone following a no plastics policy.
Because the undeniable reasons for using plastic for our separators and containers are:
- hygienic and easy to clean
- stable, durable and extremely long-lasting
- sealable for waterproof and airtight qualities
- light and break-proof (especially important for vans)
- recyclable (single-grade plastics)
- easy to process, e.g. for individual adaptations
And it even has a lower carbon footprint than the plastic alternative ceramics.
Furthermore, we ensure high production standards and reduce our transportation footprint.
Hence, we source our plastic parts from German manufacturers. Even the pellets they use come either from Germany or from Belgium.
We keep gradually switching to plastic free alternatives wherever possible.
For example, our separators are delivered now covered in tissue paper instead. Even the shipping material is now made entirely of paper. From tape to envelopes for customs documents.
However — producing, consuming, as well as living a plastic-free life is a process.
And we keep researching and redesigning for a world with less plastic pollution.
Because we are committed to change.
In the hopes that this peek behind the scenes was insightful: happy plastic free July to you!