The impact we have on the environment as a business, is an important consideration for us. The products we create are largely based on natural, sustainable and recycled materials made through a handmade process. For many of our products Nkuku takes the waste materials leftover from other industries including; cotton from discarded t-shirts, leather, metals and glass as well as recycled saris. Recycling allows us to create new and beautiful products with less impact on our environment.
Beyond our product collections, there are other areas of the business that contribute to our environmental footprint. We face a number of challenges in which we need to improve, as a result we are constantly learning and evolving. For example our head office now has a policy of zero waste to landfill; we work with a local dedicated company to accomplish this.
Packaging & Delivery
We regularly re-evaluate our processes for shipping and delivery. One of our greatest challenges lies in the origins of many of our products. Our products travel from different corners of the world including India, Indonesia and Vietnam. As a policy we ensure we sea freight and avoid air freight, and always utilise container space efficiently to minimise our environmental impact.
A significant area we need to improve in, is packaging. Many of our collections are made from recycled glass, ceramics and other fragile materials, and we face a constant challenge to ensure the pieces are delivered safely and in one piece.
Some of the challenges we face are:
- Our products need to be protected against heavy monsoon rains and extreme heat.
- We know that a glass lantern for example, can face a multitude of different transportation methods from camel drawn carts and brightly coloured lorries, facing long journeys across bumpy roads; from rural areas to major cities; setting sail for our UK warehouse and eventually arriving with our customers.
- The amount of packaging material needs to weigh up against the risk of the product arriving broken. We know that if the product is damaged this will have a far larger impact on the environment as we will then need to replace it for our customer.
- Once our collections have arrived at our warehouse, we then face the challenge of delivering these to the end customer without using excess materials. As a homewares brand, our product collections vary from large, awkward shaped objects to small, fragile objects. Our aim is to deliver our products in as few boxes as possible but this can mean that a large box needs to be used to accommodate the proportions of the large object, leaving an area of void space. We need to constantly assess our processes to ensure they make sense.
As part of an ongoing review we need to overcome our challenges with environmentally friendly solutions. We have set an objective to review all our packaging and we are working with our suppliers to develop more eco-friendly ways of wrapping and protecting our items, including new recycled and recyclable materials. Many of these are not readily available in the countries we work with. It is an education for us all, but its importance hasn’t escaped us and we need to urgently embrace new and better ways of working and we are committed to making significant improvements.
Actions we are taking now
- We reuse all the original boxes and packaging that are made at the original point of production.
- We have identified that by making small design changes to our current boxes, we can save 4 tonnes of cardboard waste per year.
- We thoughtfully design our boxes for delivery in the UK, using recycled corrugated cardboard that is also recyclable, adding stylish printed detail that, we hope will encourage customers to keep our boxes and reuse them in other ways.
- We are replacing air pockets in our packaging with brown paper that can be easily recycled. We are also investigating, as a priority, a bio-degradable options. Our research has shown that using air pockets to fill void space in our packaging is more environmentally friendly than using brown paper. This is because the air pockets compact into less waste and can also be recycled.
- We are currently reviewing our packaging multiples – this is to see if by increasing the number of pack items in a box we can reduce the overall packaging waste.
- We are working with our warehouse to improve all packaging materials and exploring environmentally friendly alternatives.
We will continue to review and assess our packaging methods. Our Buying and Operation Teams are invested in improving all stages of product packaging and delivery.
We are always keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions, please contact our Customer Care Team firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback.