The truth is that innovation is never a single event, but a process of discovery, refinement and transformation and it is often the transformation stage that takes the longest. Just because you have a breakthrough idea doesn’t mean that anyone knows what to do with it, because every meaningful innovation requires us to change practices and behaviours.
2017 has been a tipping point where the world has woken up and realised that plastic consumption is out of control and polluting the planet at a scale that has never been seen.
10 years ago we recognised the growing environmental problem of plastic in our oceans and set out to challenge the status quo. We had a vision and passion and believed we could change the world. At first it was only me working from my kitchen table but soon I managed to recruit a partner who had even more passion, a greater vision and serious business skills, Gary Smith. Combined, we became an unstoppable force. We moved into a small office furnished with a plastic fold-up table and two second hand office chairs. We were so confident that we were going to succeed that we quickly added five more desks even though we didn’t yet have any customers. As we sat facing each other in our small empty office we recited the mantra … if we build it … they will come.
We had one customer who bought a couple of reels of compostable film each month. We built a website, attended trade shows, went door to door in the city, and slowly but surely we began to make some headway. It started as a trickle but every day, every week, every month, more and more people began to believe in our story.
Today, we are leaders in disposable foodservice packaging. We are the flavour of the day. We have reached critical mass not just in product sales but awareness about humanities impact on the planet, specifically the damage that plastics have when they end up in our oceans.
Another year has come to an end and BioPak has once again grown in leaps and bounds.
We have achieved some significant goals, the one I am most proud of is becoming a certified Benefit Corporation (B-Corp): we now join the ranks of 2,000 companies from all over the world, companies I've admired and who've inspired me to be the change I want to see in the world.
Being in the company of legends such as Patagonia and Ben and Jerrys, who’s founders set the stage for a new business paradigm, one that puts people and planet ahead of profits is the ultimate realisation that we have become a force for good.
We have dumped so much plastic into our oceans. What was once considered something so large that mankind could not have any influence over is now being choked by millions of tonnes of plastics, killing wildlife, contaminating our food and polluting our home.
It is no longer good enough to do less bad but rather we need to do more good.
We have a strategy, the tools, the knowledge and the people to accomplish this vision. Our products are less bad than conventional plastic packaging but it's not enough. There is always room for improvement and we are dedicated to pushing the boundaries and finding even better materials, processes and products.
We are also dedicated to using our profits for good – 5% of our profits help those who are less fortunate or to protect the environment – 1% of profits go to Rainforest Rescue to support their protection and restoration of rainforests.
Our latest initiative is aiming to close the loop. The BioPak Composting Service will finally ensure our products and our customers can become an integral part of a truly circular economy.
It’s been a mere decade and we can say, that together with our customers, we have disrupted an industry. And the roll on effect of this is that our competitors are also changing their bahavious to follow suit. This mass commitment to positive change is EXCELLENT!
Gary and I have the dream of a future where our products are ecologically compatible and nourish people and the planet at every stage in their lifecycle – from cradle to grave. Nature produces billions of tonnes of organic biomass every year that feeds and benefits all living organisms in an elegant and sustainable cycle, humanity is learning to harness and work with nature to manufacture products in a sustainable and harmonious way.
This is not some distant future reality. Technology has enabled us to make changes at an unprecedented rate. If you think that at the turn of the 20th century the time it took from the first flight by the Wright Brothers until we put a man on the moon was a mere seven decades. With the current pace of innovation, I believe what we will be able to achieve in the coming years will be nothing short of miraculous.
The idea of replacing all single use disposable packaging ten years ago has been refined and transformed and practices and behavior have begun to change.
Everyone at BioPak and all our customers have been instrumental to the success of our business and the growth of compostable packaging and making the world a better place.