Ecostick – A Revolution in Packaging for Guest Amenities

Published on Apr 15, 2019

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As a forward-thinking, innovative company, Health Pak has spent 20 years working to create environmentally-friendly packaging and processes – and we believe our latest product is a real game-changer.

The Ecostick is a direct replacement for the bottles and tubes which contain the hair and body cosmetic products guests expect from accommodation providers. It offers the same high-quality guest experience, but has been developed using ground-breaking technology and manufacturing processes so that it can break down in landfill sites.

The new Ecostick packaging is being launched as part of the Forest & Bird range of toiletries and, as such, is aimed fair and square at addressing and responding to issues around plastic waste and New Zealand’s poor infrastructure when it comes to recycling.

 

So why do we need a new form of packaging for guest amenities?

One of the biggest problems around the world when it comes to packaging is that it’s impossible to divorce the type of material used from the processes available to handle that material once it’s been used by the consumer.

In New Zealand, for example, there are no commercial facilities to deal with compostable packaging materials and the vast majority of accommodation providers don’t have the time or ability to recycle the large number of recyclable plastic bottles that go through their businesses. Even when plastics are recycled properly by the user, because of the country’s poor record in setting up recycling systems, there’s still a fair chance they will fall through the cracks and end up with general waste.

This means that most packaging – regardless of whether it’s marked as recyclable, degradable or compostable – ends up going to landfill.

Health Pak has long pushed the development of innovative recycled and recyclable packaging such as eco.logic bottles and processes such as the Back to Base soap recycling, but we also believe we now need a product that matches the reality of guests’ demands for high-quality cosmetic products that provide a great consumer experience with the reality of where those products end up.

Managing director Toby Whyte says the philosophy behind Ecosticks is to develop something that has much less impact on the environment while maintaining the same perceived value to the guest.

“We believe that with Ecostick we’ve come up with something that guests will perceive as of a suitable quality and standard, but we also think they’ll get tied up in the story too and will get behind it. Certainly, that’s been the overwhelming response from those we’ve worked with.”

 

How does the ecostick work?

Ecostick is unique in that it’s the only paper-based material that’s able to hold a liquid long-term without leakage. Other paper-based packaging either uses a plastic coating or foil as a sealant to prevent leaking, whereas Ecostick’s material also contains an additive which allows the plastic to break down in landfill within 3 to 10 years as opposed to the hundreds of years it would take otherwise.

There are three main components to how this works:

  1. The Ecostick material: This is almost exclusively paper and so is able to biodegrade in any landfill. The thin layer of plastic coating that’s used wouldn’t degrade in landfill because of the lack of sunlight or oxygen, so our additive is designed to a) help start the process of breaking it down, and b) work like a pheromone for microbes which then start eating it as if it was organic waste.
  2. The packaging line: The way the material is handled and filled contributes to how it is able to contain liquids such as shampoo and soap without leakage.
  3. The cosmetic products: The liquids that go into the Ecosticks are quality cosmetic products but with intellectual property characteristics that another shampoo wouldn’t have that allow them to go into a paper sachet and not leak.

 

Does the guest’s experience alter with Ecosticks as opposed to bottles and tubes?

Display and functionality were always going to be of the utmost importance in bringing a new packaging product to market. Ecosticks needed to have the wow-factor when it came to providing guests with a great experience at their accommodation while also providing the environmental story of why it was important and different.

The result was to use a ceramic tube with a bamboo lid to contain and display the sticks in the bathroom and introduce a bamboo tray to contain the tube alongside the other products in the Forest & Bird range.

The ceramic tube also carries information about how Ecostick works as well as a QR code that directs to our new website One Less Bottle which explains why the accommodation provider is offering the product.

“Getting the consumer engaged is one of the key selling points because that not only makes the hotel look good but also lets them understand why they have Ecosticks in their bathroom and not a bottle,” Toby says. “That can be a difficult message to get across on a small product so we hope the website and the way the Ecosticks are displayed will help attract attention.”

 

Why are Ecosticks being launched with the Forest & Bird range?

Forest & Bird is a fantastic organisation which is very passionate about that they do and anything that reduces the impact on the environment.

Because Health Pak has been supporting Forest & Bird for more than five years and contributes a proportion of its sales from its Forest & Bird range of toiletries to help fund their work, it seemed the ideal fit to work with them to launch the new Ecostick packaging.

Toby estimates around 13 million bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel could be used by New Zealand hotels every year and almost all are dumped in landfill. Because the impact on the environment of switching from bottles and tubes to Ecosticks would be, in Toby’s words, “astronomical”, he would like to roll them out across all the ranges at some stage, but it made sense to have the added impact of Forest & Bird’s support for the launch.

“Guests and hotels have been looking for a product like this so we’re hopeful that they will come to their senses and say this is the sort of guest amenity packaging they want. If every hotel and motel in the country took this on board, the impact on the environment and the reduction of waste would be astronomical in a short space of time – and so, yes, in the long term it would be our aim to roll this out on all ranges and have everyone jump on board.”



Find out how HealthPak can work alongside your business to develop new bespoke ranges or for details on our current range of guest amenities, call us on +64 9 579 6268, email us at info@healthpak.co.nz or contact us via the website.

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