In July 2018 we announced we swapped the majority of our plastic packaging (around 1.5 tonnes!) for a GM free, fully compostable, plastic replacement made from potato starch in Finland. Just dispose of it with your food or garden waste or, if neither of those are available, pop it in your general waste bin. (Don't put it in your recycling: it will contaminate the plastic processing!).
Our gorgeous Apricot Foxx tulips in their new non-plastic packaging
We are all horrified about the ever growing plastic pollution problem. We saw Blue Planet II and last night's BBC documentary "Drowning in Plastic" with its harrowing shots of a seal strangled by plastic, sea birds so heavy from eating plastic they can't fly and other aberrations of the natural world and, like many of you, we're despairing of what can be done to turn the tide on the world's plastic addiction.
At Peter Nyssen we have been pondering this question for some time. We wanted to reduce the amount of plastic we were putting out in to the world but it was not an easy journey. Initially we investigated the idea of more widely recyclable plastics. This was a complete minefield! We deliver to customers all over Europe and each country, and even different regions in the same country, have different recycling capabilities. Add to that the fact that currently only 11% of plastic is recycled in Europe we quickly realised this would not be the right solution for us.
Tulip Apricot Foxx
Our next port of call was a biodegradable alternative to plastic. Again, this was not a straightforward quest. Our first inquiries resulted in materials that broke down during industrial composting but still used petroleum based ingredients. This would mean that while the bags would break down, they'd leave behind non-biodegradable microplastics which would wash out in to the environment. Clearly NOT the solution we were looking for.
Finally, we came across Bioska Plastiroll. It's a fully compostable, GM free, potato starch based plastic replacement made in a Finnish factory that uses only renewable energy. It sounded too good to be true! We were heartened to find that they already had a track record in packing vegetables with Abel and Cole but no one had used it to pack bulbs yet. We were in uncharted waters as to whether the new material would be suitable for our packing machines or whether it would maintain the high quality Peter Nyssen is known for. What's more, it's quite a lot more expensive than plastic so, for our small, family run company, it was quite a gamble.
So, we ordered a few rolls and the great day of testing arrived. There were a few bitten nails but, with a few minor adjustments, Plastiroll was whizzing through our packing machines as though they were made for each other. Have a look at our packing machines in action here!
We are deliriously happy with this small success on the path to de-plasticising our operations but we know we can go further. We're already looking for a good alternatives to the P9 black plastic pots we use for our plants and for a durable alternative in which to pack our narcissi. We are also very keen for more bulb companies to try using Plastiroll and have stored spare rolls with a local packaging company for any company that would like to get in touch to test it on their own packing machines.