Julie Mathers, co-founder and CEO of vegan and eco-friendly online retailer Flora & Fauna, is urging retailers, suppliers and consumers to come together to eliminate plastic packaging from the supply chain.
In conjunction with the start of Plastic Free July, Mathers has launched Take It Back, a campaign to encourage businesses to stop using plastic satchels and bubble wrap and ship orders using recycled and compostable material instead.
Only 10 per cent of plastic in the world is recycled, according to reports. The rest ends up in landfills and the oceans.
The growth of e-commerce is a growing part of the problem, with orders wrapped and shipped in single-use plastic around the world.
Flora & Fauna went plastic-free in its shipping packaging four years ago. It now uses recycled boxes and green wrap and has kept over 30 tonnes of plastic out of landfill as a result.
A growing number of retailers, such as The Iconic, have also switched to recycled packaging, but as Mathers pointed out in a video about the campaign, many retailers still receive a significant amount of products in plastic packaging from their suppliers, which the consumer never sees.
“There isn’t one thing I’ve seen enter our warehouse that needed plastic packaging around it and yet we still get it in around 50 per cent of deliveries,” Mathers wrote in an email about the campaign.
“The other 50 per cent is pretty amazing with many [suppliers] using recycled packaging and also packing like Jenga so minimal paper packaging is required,” she wrote.
The Take It Back campaign aims to highlight the businesses – both retailers and suppliers – that provide plastic-free packaging to inspire, not shame, those who don’t.
Mathers is asking people in the retail sector to share their packaging stories with Take It Back on social media, and to tag the campaign if they receive an amazing parcel.
She is also asking Flora & Fauna’s suppliers to consider the packaging they use to send orders and sharing plastic-free suppliers on a page on the Flora & Fauna website.
“We’re hell-bent on making change at a much greater level – it has to be much bigger than us and industry-wide,” she said.
“If anyone knows me they’ll know I am one noisy individual in the retail industry and I will keep being noisy until we see change.”