The past calendar year has seen advances in scientific developments about PFAS (forever chemicals) found in packaging, an FTC crackdown on product labeling laws, and growing evidence that recycling, as we’ve known it, doesn’t really work. If you care about the environment, it is easy to doom scroll through alarming headlines, but it is my hope that this year’s winner of the LUXE PACK Green Award in Paris provides some much-needed relief. Companies like Estonia-based Raiku have a solution for the luxury packaging industry that sits at the intersection of these issues. Their compostable packaging is designed with luxury products and consumers in mind and unlike biodegradables, when it ends up in a landfill it composts since it is made of 100% natural organic material. I spoke with one of Raiku’s co-founders, Karl J Pärtel, about the barriers manufacturers face in adapting compostable packaging, creating a luxury product and addressing the urgency of environmental issues.
Karl J Pärtel on convincing manufacturers to adopt compostable packaging
Pärtel is a seasoned entrepreneur with a passion for creating sustainable solutions. He has demonstrated his commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation both with Raiku and Myceen (the mycelium based design and architecture clean-tech company he is also a founder of). Pärtel’s vision and leadership have guided Raiku in its mission to provide high-quality, compostable packaging while promoting sustainable practices. Equally relevant is his practicality and down-to-earth attitude, which speaks to manufacturers’ need for realistic, attainable goals.
He understands that for the people most removed from experiencing the detrimental effects of climate change you have to put it to their bottom line, “For the mass market, it is about the cost. Right now it is not mandatory everywhere and it is still relatively affordable. Brands still have an opening, but it will get pricier,” Pärtel explained. Adopting before it is mandatory will help manufactures get ahead, and prepare for increased packing costs, padding them into their pricing structures. Right now, he suggests, brands can also boast being early adopters, innovators in the space, as part of their image and marketing. Manufacturers can benefit from the growing market demand for sustainable and eco-conscious products, and build consumer trust with authentic sustainability stories.
Becoming carbon neutral on a deadline
In the European Union, where Raiku is based, the demand for compostable packaging has been steady for a while. Most manufacturing in the EU is already aiming to be carbon neutral. They’re a bit ahead of the USA, where most regulators are shooting for 2050. The difficult problem to grapple with will be how we get everyone close to carbon neutrality, once they are signed on. Right now in the US, the infrastructure for composting and processing compostable packaging is not widely available or developed enough. There are concerns over municipalities and composting facilities not having the necessary infrastructure to effectively process compostable materials.
This lack of infrastructure could lead to increased costs for waste management systems and potentially result in compostable packaging ending up in landfills, contributing to the very problem it seeks to solve. It is a question of which will come first: Will US manufacturers adopt compostable packaging before it is mandatory? Creating the demand for more infrastructure? Or will the regulations force the manufacturer’s hand, before they have the infrastructure to process compostables? Probably the latter. “Before 2019 or so, nothing really happened, but then the regulations happened,” Pärtel says of European Union Carbon Law, predicting the US will likely follow suit.
About Raiku’s compostable packaging
Raiku produces 100% compostable packaging as an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic packaging. Their packaging is designed to be both beautiful and protective, making it suitable for shipping fragile items such as glass and ceramics. Its unique spring structure sets Raiku packaging apart, providing excellent shock absorption and protection for delicate objects. It keeps aesthetics top of mind and has a luxurious touch that also sets it apart from traditional packaging options and competitors. They take pride in its commitment to sustainability and transparency, asserting that their products are 100% natural and safe for the environment, without any greenwashing tactics. To learn more visit Raiku.co