Nature is inspirational. We make the most of it in our glorious products, like our fresh face masks, packed full of 100% natural ingredients with no pesky preservatives. We also protect it by supporting fantastic environmental causes through initiatives such as Charity Pot. When we combine these aims together, sustainable packaging is the result.
At first, we tried popcorn. Popcorn was great. It could be transported in its concentrated kernel form, saving transport emissions by lowering the lorry loads needed during production. It could also be composted straight after use and - as an added bonus - delving into your parcels felt reminiscent of trips to the cinema.
Then we realised we could go further, 23% further in fact.
Ecoflow, a simple starch nugget material, takes 23% less energy than popcorn to produce. It looks a bit like Wotsits, if Wotsits were white and alas, inedible (so not much like Wotsits but you get the idea). It is also much more efficient; one tonne of starch is able to produce 7.5 times more packing material than one tonne of kernels. Lots of this starch is recycled after being used to wash potato slices in the manufacturing of the crisps many of us munch on daily.
To make Ecoflo, potato starch is mixed with small amounts of water and extruded under high pressure and heat. Under these conditions the starch fuses into a long polymer chain, effectively becoming a thermoplastic with similar properties to polystyrene. Back when we were forming popcorn, motors would heat the air which then caused the kernels to pop. In the Ecoflo process, the heat is generated by friction and transferred directly to the starch, saving considerable energy in comparison.