We actively look at ways to improve our packaging but it is a very difficult balance of guaranteeing items are delivered together and in good condition, reducing plastic, reducing waste, reducing our impact on the environment and reducing fraudulent activity while retaining a sensible and commercially viable solution for us, our training centres and the end customers.
While, as an absolute minimum, we are compliant with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) and the EU Directives that have replaced it, our aim is to go much further and holistically rather than as just a tick box exercise. We strive to find the best and most practical environmentally friendly solution available within certain key constraints such as cost, durability, security etc. and we are regularly monitoring it as part of our policy of continuous improvement.
Over recent years we have increased the amount of recycled packaging we use to 90%; this is down to reusing cardboard packaging from goods we receive for packages we send out to customers.
We use polywrapping only where necessary or where there is a specific reason to do so. Where we do use it, we use environmentally friendly packaging; for example items such as the Youth Scheme logbooks are wrapped because they contain sticker charts which was in response to feedback on better engagement with that age group.
We’ve been changing, tweaking and removing packaging on items since 2010 as a way to reduce our use of plastic and we’ve had significant success for high volume items such as the Powerboat Level 2 course pack where we’ve removed the polywrapping completely. We have also reconstructed the make-up of our shorebased course packs (i.e. RYA Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Offshore) which has hugely reduced the wastage and thereby the amount of plastic we use.
As for the types of plastic we use, it is reviewed each year with each printer as part of our annual assessment into the materials we use. We look at bi-poly, biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable wrapping other degradable or environmentally friendly polythenes and the levels of DEG.68 or other relevant additives added therein. All alternatives have an environmental impact of some sort in terms of production and disposal – i.e. the requirement of UV and oxygen to trigger the process and then heat is required to accelerate the process.
We also look at alternatives to polythene bags such as Biofilm which is currently prohibitively expensive and not readily available in the quantities we need where we need it.
We have recently become aware of a Polycomp material which is essentially made of potato starch so is fully compostable and appears durable enough to be suitable for our needs. It can be disposed of on any compost heap, in a household garden waste bin, a household food waste bin, or you can use it to line your food waste bin.
We will be testing the Polycomp wrapping for the 2019 mid-year reprint of Shorebased course packs (namely DSAP core and assessment parts as well as YMAP core and assessment parts) and look to roll out to other items if successful.
In addition to that we have also become aware of a corn starch based material (SH-133) which is very similar to the Polycomp material in the way that it is compostable. We will be testing this with the 2019 reprint of the G11 Youth Sailing Scheme Syllabus & Logbook from July 2019) along with some of the stock being wrapped with Polycomp for comparison.
You’ll see more products coming through where the packaging has been replaced with a compostable wrapping over the coming months as we test eco-friendly alternatives. Two other key items that will shortly be taking part in the test are Navigation Exercises (G7) and the SRC course pack (SRCP) so look out for those changes in your deliveries over the next 6 months.
While the research and the testing continues, you are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions or questions.