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. We gather the waste 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 and areas in which we need to improve, as a result we are constantly learning, evolving and improving. 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 collections travel from different corners of the world including India, Indonesia and Vietnam. As a policy we ensure we sea freight and avoid air miles, and always utilise container space efficiently and to the maximum.
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, extreme heat and damp containers.
- We know that a glass lantern for example, can face a multitude of different transportation methods from camel drawn carts and poorly suspended lorries, 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 way- up against the risk of the product arriving broken. We know that if the product is wasted this will have a far larger impact on the environment.
- Once our collections have arrived at our warehouse, we then face the challenge of delivering these to our customers 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 and requirement for more packing materials. We constantly assess our processes to ensure they make sense.
We have been reviewing all our packaging methods. Successes So Far:
Our deliveries from our UK Warehouse to You:
- As of November 2019, all plastic void fill has been removed from our retail deliveries.
- We have replaced our small boxes with recyclable paper mail bags. This has reduced the amount of void space and reduced the amount of cardboard used in our deliveries.
- We have made a design change to our retail boxes; this has reduced our use of cardboard by 4 tonnes per year.
- We are using recycled and recyclable corrugated cardboard., we have also designed the boxes with a stylish print to encourage their reuse.
- We now have a shredder at our warehouse that shreds any box that is unusable to create packaging material for ongoing deliveries. This material can then be recycled.
From our suppliers to Nkuku:
- We reuse all the original boxes and packaging that are made at the -original point of production. (As above any not fit for use are shredded and used as packaging protection).
- We have reviewed our packing multiples – this is to see if by increasing the number of pack items in a box we can reduce the overall packaging waste. This has already had an impact on the number of boxes used.
- 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 but we are carrying out our own research and working with our suppliers to find alternatives. We are committed to making significant improvements.
Recent initiatives include:
- Replacing bubble wrap with corrugated cardboard
- Removing polystyrene from ALL packaging by 2021*
* Our suppliers have faced a number of challenges since COVID. An important part of our approach is to support and work with our suppliers. As a result, the packaging project was temporarily placed on hold and restarted in January 2021. We are targeting specific products from specific suppliers to trial the plans for removing non-recyclable materials from the packaging. We have made a great deal of progress and have actively removed bubble wrap. We have not yet managed to complete the task of removing Styrofoam from our large fragile glass items. This remains an important objective.
We will update you once these initiatives have filtered through to all our suppliers and are in full force across our entire supply base.
We are constantly reviewing alternative packaging materials from biodegradable to soluble materials. This research is ongoing.
We cannot stress how important this is to us. Behind the scenes we are working on solutions, it is frustrating at times, and we don’t have immediate results.
We allow long lead times for our suppliers, due to the handmade nature of our products, and this means our collections for Spring 2020 have already set sail. Some improvements have already been made but we have more work to do. Our focus now is Autumn 2020.
We are open to feedback and ideas so please get in touch if you have suggestions that can help us improve.