Do you use food or pharmaceutical delivery services at home or at work? Are the goods transported in expanded polystyrene (EPS) boxes like these?
You’ll be please to know there is a more sustainable solution to EPS, called Woolcool.
Woolcool insulated boxes are made from waste wool (which is a sustainable and highly effective natural insulation material) and cardboard/paper based materials. These materials are renewable, reusable, and compostable or recyclable.
A small amount of polyethylene is currently used as a protective layer over the wool but it is recyclable at soft plastic drop-off locations, and Woolcool are actively looking to replace this with a plant based alternative. Here’s what the insulation looks like up close:
Woolcool has been rigorously tested and found to have better insulating properties than polystyrene, so it really works! Make sure you check out their website to get heaps more information about how Woolcool insulated packaging is made and why it works.
Even though I don’t use food or pharmaceutical delivery services myself at this point (FarmGate Online has closed), it occurred to me that some of you are engaging with, or are employed by food and pharmaceutical businesses, and so have the opportunity to encourage those businesses to move away from EPS and use renewable products like Woolcool. So, why not flick an email through to a business you know using EPS boxes to voice your concern and suggest a solution? This simple act has the potential to have a big positive outcome.
Businesses may justify their use of EPS by saying that it is recyclable but part of the problem with EPS is that it is inefficient and uneconomical to recycle, so it is rarely accepted by companies. The Planet Ark website says that only 29.4% of EPS is currently recycled and the remainder either goes to landfill or ends up in the litter stream polluting our environment and waterways. If you find yourself with EPS, you can visit the Recycling Near You website to find out if there are any recycling companies in your area that will take it. Otherwise, it should be placed in your landfill bin.
Personal Carry Cool Bag
When I was researching Woolcool, I came across this little snippet on their website: “Woolcool pouches are also available with clip-together handles as ready-to-go cool bags.” I was interested in this because my cool bag has been falling apart despite my repair efforts over the years, and I’ve been looking for a more eco-friendly replacement.
After chatting with the Woolcool team about this, they offered to send me one of their ‘pouches with handles’ to test out. It needs to be noted that Woolcool are a B2B business, and don’t actually sell retail items to the public, so for you to get one of these, a business would have to choose to have this as their packaging, and then as a customer you could reuse it for your own purposes.
It works well and fits a decent amount of stuff in it, and when the plastic bag can’t be used anymore, I will use the removable insulation to line my old cooler bag because the outer part of my cool bag is still intact and the liner is a good fit. At least I can keep most of both bags out of landfill through reuse, recycling, and composting, even though there is plastic involved. I’m not really sure how I could have kept my original cool bag going (as a cool bag) without a Woolcool liner, but I’m happy to read your suggestions if you have any.
It’s also worth noting that Woolcool are investigating the possibility of making a reusable cool bag like mine for customers, as I’m apparently not the only one who has enquired about this. There might be an update on that from me in the future.
One final point about Woolcool, is that the felted wool could be reused in a number of ways before it is no longer useful. Here are some suggestions from the UK website:
- Picnic hampers
- Hanging baskets
- Pet baskets
- Cushion stuffing
- Homework projects
- Donation to homeless or animal shelters
- Pipe lagging
- Draught excluders
- Protection for plants/trees from frost
- Feeding roses and keeping slugs off plants
- Keeping takeaways warm
- Keeping drinks/food cold on the beach
- Craft projects
- Knee pads for gardening