closing the loop + product stewardship

At nil products we have for several years been focusing on being as sustainable as possible and choosing low impact materials and ethical and eco production where we can. Locally made when ever possible. There is more focus now from law makers and educated consumers to ensure producers and manufacturers are walking the walk - not just talking the talk. There are many terms and words used in product sustainability - so we wanted to write a bit about these concepts.

We need to consider what happens with a product and any packaging, after it's use. Thankfully more and more people are moving past throwaway culture - unless it can be thrown into our compost heap! That's ideal.

Here are some terms we are familiar with at nil products: eco loops, biodegradable, product stewardship - which we wanted to share with you.

Eco Loops

Have you heard about the concept of ‘eco loops’? This means designing with little of no waste, or a way to use any waste. And to ensure that at the end of use what is left of the product can break down naturally - to help nurture and support the growth of the new resource material.

Some of our key products that showcase the 'eco loop' concept are:

100% wool makeup removers and 100% wool facecloths:

  • Made from wool offcuts - this organic wool has been saved from being destined for the landfill
  • 100% biodegradable & compostable - biodegrades in a matter of weeks
  • Washable and reusable, or disposable with low impact and with no nasty chemical residues
  • 100% renewable and sustainable
  • A planet-positive eco material - over it’s lifetime, a sheep’s fleece will absorb approximately 30Kg of carbon dioxide

And wax food wrap products are intentionally designed with an eco loop:

  • Material is 100% organic cotton - farmed and processed to GOTS organic certification
  • Made in small batches into our wax and hand sewn products in New Zealand
  • Off cuts are turned into our organic wax fire starters which we invented
  • When burned, the organic wax firestarters turn in to ash and can be returned to the earth to nourish the soil

What about biodegradable?

Biodegradable refers to a product breaking down into natural elements, carbon dioxide, and water vapor by organisms like bacteria and fungi. Biodegradable products break down into carbon dioxide, water vapor, and organic material, which aren't harmful to the environment.

It's really important that this term is used when it is truly the case - but some product materials may be marketed as biodegradable when it isn't certain that they can breakdown quickly and naturally - for example some 'bio-plastics' or 'eco dental floss' but they can contain PLAT in their material.

If in doubt, choose products made from natural materials which are not blended with too many other materials. 100% silk, wool or cotton, or cotton coated with beeswax or a plant based wax - as these will completely breakdown and biodegrade.

Biodegradable often can also mean home compostable. Products that are quickly biodgradable - such as natural fibres like cotton, wool or silk - should be disposed in a compost and not into general waste to the landfill. This is so that the they are not trapped in the landfill environment which will not allow them to breakdown naturally.

Do you or your neighbours have a home compost to use? Or can you use a compost collection service?

Our nil bathroom range include these biodegradable products:

  • 100% wool reusable makeup remover wipes
  • 100% wool biodegradable facecloth
  • 100% plant-based konjac sponge
  • 100% silk eco floss
  • bamboo toothbrushes (remove the brush head)
  • shampoo and conditioner bars and shaving bar - these bars are made with pure and natural plant based ingredients, any leftover bar will simply breakdown and biodegrade


Product Stewardship

Product stewardship is about businesses taking responsibility for the products they make sell and buy so they are not ending up in landfill. That means designing and making products to last, then putting systems in place to enable them to be reused and recycled when they are worn out.

Anna, founder of nil products, recently joined a project group to raise awareness of product stewardship. It's actually something we have been doing for around 5 years without really using the official term.

The Sustainable Business Network is leading the Aotearoa Product Stewardship Campaign with a number of key businesses - including Munch and nil. It aims to raise awareness and increase the number of businesses involved in product stewardship. 

An example of a product stewardship take-back arrangement we offer if for our nil stainless steel blades, used in reusable safety razors. They are fully recyclable but are too sharp to put into kerbside recycling collection - so instead return your blades or old razor body to us, we will ensure it is recycled correctly.

The actual steel razor body and handle will last for years and years - in fact it may last your whole lifetime! Quality built to last.

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