Sustainable Packaging

Corrugated Cooler to replace EPS? Colin Rowland Coolbox Director

June 12, 2022 Cory Connors Season 2 Episode 63
Sustainable Packaging
Corrugated Cooler to replace EPS? Colin Rowland Coolbox Director
Show Notes Transcript

https://www.coolboxsolutions.co.uk/
what if we could replace EPS with corrugated?
Can these be reused?
Is this the future of meal kit packaging?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/colin-rowland/

https://www.landsberg.com/

https://ororapackagingsolutions.com/
Looking to improve the sustainability of your packaging today? Check out:
https://www.landsberg.com/
The views and opinions expressed on the "Sustainable Packaging with Cory Connors" podcast are solely those of the author and guests and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity. 

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/1329820053/ref=as_sl_pc_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=corygat

Cory Connors:

Welcome to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors today. My guests from across the pond is Mr. Colin Rowland . Who's the director at box. Hey Colin. How are you, sir? Yeah,

Colin Rowland:

I'm all good. Thanks Corey. Glad to be here. Glad

Cory Connors:

you'd want to be on. Well, thank you so much for making time. I'm really excited about your product and your company. Can you tell us about your background a little bit and how you got into sustainable packaging?

Colin Rowland:

Yeah, thanks so much. Yeah, absolutely. I started in packaging, not unlike yourself, probably about what over 20 years ago now, when I started with a company called David S. Smith who introduced me for my sins to the world of corrugate and packaging. And I started there as a, as a, as a buyer, I, while buying paper really for the, for the, for the group. And then laugh then went on team to customer services and made my way through that business. And lastly, my last eight or nine years was as a speciality sales manager internally. Mainly my job was to. Push the boundaries of corrugate. So it was it was an actual sheet feed and we worked for, for those that make the board. And you know, it's not, it's not particularly sexy. It, it's not great to

Cory Connors:

disagree

Colin Rowland:

brown board. Anyway, let me say that brown or white corrugate. So what can we do differently? And it was my job to push production. Yeah, can we add wallpaper coverings to it in bossing, the bossing water resistant liners? Can we make the corrugator do that rather than a post lamination process can do it all in line. And that was my job. And did that quite successfully. We create the first waterproof board. We applied the decorative in boxings and so I'm big proud of my achievements, but the smear and, you know, walked away having pushed to the boundaries to something. And then, yeah, that was, that was about 10 years ago. And then, and then not dissimilarly to where I'm at now. I then joined an industrial packaging specialist where we used all sorts of materials to create design and sort of innovate packaging solutions where I taught myself about CAD design and design the solutions myself and have, and think of which materials to use for the different problems. And then from within that business we created another business and it was a cold chain packaging business. So insulated packaging, right around that time, Cory, that e-commerce world of food delivery started to become a little bit trendy and people were just getting into it, going back to 2009, 2010. And so, you know, that's when I sort of spent about four or five years doing that. And then. In my early forties, I think looking back and cutting probably a somewhat frustrated 40 year old business, man, if you like never having overall control of a DSP is really wanted that opportunity to stay here, a business innovatively and, and financially call it non fulfillment. I think if you like. There, there was then this divine intervention almost if you like that, if you're that way inclined where I was kind of sought out by a business. And I'll, I'll say the name it called hydro pack at the time. And for all intents and purposes, they were a good silent trade partner to the cold chain industry, predominantly making ice packs a little bit left field of. But they were growing in the world of e-commerce. I think it's fair to say the owners they were a little bit disengaged, a bit disenchanted having been in business for about 16 years worth about a million pounds and they would just wanted to grow it, but didn't know how. So I came along with my sort of five, six years of e-commerce and Oxy packaging knowledge and joined. And then four short years took it from, you know, a relatively small trade partner to over 70 million pound turnover, very profitable. And it was sold late last year. Just, just off ride left. I think that's what we said where they were at. But in that time, create lots of new brands for this e-commerce sector. You know, lots of the brands and products that are still sold today, the downside to it was 90% of those products that we innovated And not the most environmentally friendly products, you know? And it's like to say by the end of my tenure there sort of the world of e-commerce food delivery was starting to change in sort of hunger, but easy and cheap to sustainable and environmentally friendly. Yeah. So. Not so brief synopsis of my background from a sort of an innovative creative guy. That's been impacted over 20 years. I love the responsibility. I love being in control of the whole innovation process and the sales process and coming up with new solutions. And then watch competitors. Copy your products, hugely flattering. So yeah, that's me really. That's that's me in the whole sort of, not in the last 20 years and to where I am today.

Cory Connors:

Well, that's, that's an impressive story. And I love that you said, , you got into packaging and just never looked back. I think that's so common people don't tend to leave this industry. , I think it's one of the most unique and interesting industries in the world. In my opinion, I really love.

Colin Rowland:

Yeah. It's certainly got, certainly got a draw to it. And I couldn't even put my finger on it if I wanted to know why, but I think it does suck you in. And if you're one of these sad individuals like ni now that go around the supermarket and they should take 20 minutes, it takes you an hour. You should look into it then. Yeah, absolutely.

Cory Connors:

My wife, , won't go shopping with me anymore. She she's like, yeah, you can go by yourself and you can go to Costco or the grocery store and spend an hour looking at displays or corrugated, shippers and print. And yeah. You and I are built the same way. It sounds like. Absolutely.

Colin Rowland:

No, absolutely.

Cory Connors:

Well, tell us about this cool box and, and how the idea came about. I, when I saw it, I knew I had to integrate.

Colin Rowland:

Yeah, absolutely. So I'll I think to get into why sort of how a cool box come along. I'll, I'll take you into why it came along. And I think that's, that's probably a really good lead into a recycled box as well now. So when I look at it around 10 years ago, when I started in coaching or 12 years ago, when I started in cold chain, there was this really quite sort of innovative. wool in a bag concept sort of going around. And it was really the first time it was quite environmentally friendly, French title away from foam and EPS. And it's great pro time and then denim came along and then cotton came along and they're still being used today with the reuse slogan And that really got his campaign clicking the, you know, the whole reduce, reuse, and recycle sort of campaign got going. And but for me, you know, these have now had their day, or they should have had because the end user really, you know, only had sort of three choices of what to do with the products now. And that's up several of these liners when they come through an a meal kit and then send them back once you've got several of them, which 95% of people are not going to do. Right. Segregate them, you know, strip them if they're out of plastic and put, take that to the supermarket with let's walk, fascinates can be recycled or that one in a compost bin, which again, who's got a compost bin, few of us, and who's going to do that and segregate it. Not many of us. So the final option was to put these in landfill and so faced with those three options, none of them positive because they're most likely going to end up in landfill. So that's kind of. Y we want to do something different. And I, I was listening to a agenda when you had on some time ago and he, he said something really quite poignant for me, and it kind of summed up really what we're doing. And , he asked the question when you're designing a product, is the product designed for the next line? I found that really quite thought-provoking. I mean, if I didn't use that in our thought process to quite a recycled box, but actually everybody should, it should be on the design wheel without a shadow of a doubt. And I'll add to that and sort of say is the, is the next life accessible and attainable for this product? You know, it was instead of a systematic process of collection and reprocessing for the product. And the case example for that is polystyrene wool denim, cotton. There is no common and easily accessible recycling scheme, you know, for rigid plastics and paper, there is no but it's paper and corrugate that are leading the way we've. And I read a re a report every day, say 80 to 90% recycling rates for paper corrugate and that's outstanding. And it's, it's great. You know, the word recyclable is a great word. Yeah. It's used in greenwashing all too much these days recyclable because there isn't a product that can't be recycled. I think we've all met that in some way, shape or form. We could recycle anything. So you know, why do, why Crow on it about curbside recyclability so much? And that's because the home user, the end user, you admit. Yep. We don't have to think about it. You know, it's been designed and engineered to take the problem away from, from, from everybody, from you and me, we just simply put in our household bin and we know that 80 to 90% of it is gonna end up recycled and reused. So, you know, the EPS, the denim, the wall, the plastics, or the world that are dominating e-commerce food deliveries. And to those businesses that sort of putting it out there . Stop. It has to stop, right? Because they're simply passing the problem onto their customer and that's not good. So, and that turned into a rent, Cory, one of my ranch there, but but that's, , that's something that

Cory Connors:

really, this is the place to rent. I absolutely appreciate what you're saying. Was that person, a Valium, mottoes, do you remem.

Colin Rowland:

Chandru Wadhwani . I think he also

Cory Connors:

Chandru , Colin Rowland: yes. I, it really provoked for, let's say it didn't, it didn't inspire us, but I think that that was really quite potent and it made me think, yeah, it's fantastic. And that's how it should be. But do we have the means to do it as well? Was the next potent question for me? And that should be part of every design question. But totally agree. Chandru is a brilliant man. He owns a recycling facility in South Africa and they recycle pet you know, I think they're one of the top, if not the top recycler there. And he's part of it, a lot of wisdom on us over the last couple of years. Brilliant. Yeah,

Colin Rowland:

and it was a , great to listen to as well. And you know, took a lot from his podcast with him. And and so sorry, I digress slightly. He didn't, I did not ask the question about how recycling recycle box came came to be Cory. So so with all that history, you know, behind us excuse the pun I, I sort of, from my time at hydropack , took a seven to eight months sabbatical. I. One it out, you know, grew the base needs repositioned. It damn near killed me long commute, long hours, but, you know, I enjoy some downtime and I, in that time, I reconnected with an old associate for my David Smith days. Funny enough, a true gent by the name of James Hilson. And he'd been producing environmentally friendly industrial packaging for quite a few years under the name and under the company basically called goggle boxes . And he posted a piece on LinkedIn, a piece of packaging material that had been producing for a large corporate paint company. We started sending out through the postal system. So I reached out to him with my thoughts on what I felt this material could be useful. Ultimately an e-commerce food box and we sort of teamed up between that. We started called cool box solutions. We created the recycle box, right? The and the product, obviously we applied for the patent for innovation process application. And then we just pledged to continue developing products that were sustainable and more importantly, curbside recyclable. And so the concept of recycle box was what's exciting because historical research and thermal studies were already there for as a material. They were already there and cardboard has got great thumb characteristics when it stacked in layer and why it's a really poor conductor. Brilliant, because it makes it a really good insulator. And, you know, coupled with those recycling rates, this was almost a no brainer. Cory really kind of, as we looked around, we thought nobody's done it. You know, it's as a construct, it's kind of been done, but there's a process and there's an application. It hadn't been done. So for us to create recycle box, which is essentially layered, constructed corrugate formed in a unique two piece system, which it's easy to assemble. It's clearly 100% recyclable and. It's important because the meal sector is growing. As we know, the online meal sector is growing exponentially and that's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. But the meal kit sector, you know, is creating a problem and it's using unsustainable and sort of unrecyclable materials, which, you know, ultimately end up in landfill and as consumers, we don't want. Greenwashing stories that EPS, or even textiles wool denim, but they can be recycled. We know they can, but they really are. And so we, I mean, I don't about how it is in other countries, but certainly the UK, we don't have the infrastructure to recycle products. Right. So to support that, you know, the majority is gonna end up in landfill and it's just going to add to the problem. So there have been temps to justify the use of these materials such as offering returnable. Providers, you keep aligners and then you send sample bags. And it's, it's, it's kind of not worked and only a small percentage do do it, but it's a great story. Right.

Cory Connors:

So

Colin Rowland:

for me, the answer is really, really simple. Give them something that is curbside recyclable. And you know, you don't have to take it back to different places to get it recycled. So that's recycled box Cory, in a nutshell, it's making it simple and no, bro. And from a performance characteristic, it is a good as EPS and that's really all, anyone needs to know as a standard density ups thickness for thickness it's as good as it is. And so that's really interesting.

Cory Connors:

Yeah. So for for the novice packaging listener, EPS is expanded polystyrene and it's, what's been commonly used for insulated packaging up till now that, and, and, or polystyrene, which is everybody's least favorite. Yeah. So the fact that you're replacing that or have come up with an option . To replace that is really impressive. Nice job.

Colin Rowland:

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much. I think there's a long way to go with recycled box. We knew where I'm from from a, from a business point of view, we knew kids on the block. You know, we use the word sex. I think it's a sexy product. I think it's sticky. I think it's a sticky product could be here for awhile and we're not done. You know, there's lots of improvements and things we want to do with recycle box . So track the energy, make it thicker to rival a thick pharmaceutical poly box. There are no reasons why we can't, you know, not direct, not completely eradicate polystyrene from the world for other sectors, but certainly in this sector, the. Eco sexual pharmaceutical. Why not? Why

Cory Connors:

not? A hundred percent. And like we say, in the advertising industry, it's got legs. It can expand, we can come up with new ways of using this. When I saw it, I immediately thought it was innovative. You know, like you I've been in the industry over 20 years and I've never seen that for installation. Just great idea. So. Are you, are you finding people reusing them or is it mostly they just get recycled?

Colin Rowland:

Yeah. So it's the, the, the reuse I mean, it's not the first and foremost, it's not designed as a sort of returnable reuse system is a single use system because of the high recycling rates of the product. But as I said to everybody, if you can get it back and you can draw it out, as long as it's dry remembering the, you know whatever, then if it gets wet, it's a bad case of conduct, a good conduct. So long as you dry it out, there's no reason you can't reuse it. But you know, it is ultimately intended to go back into the circular economy and be recycled and regenerated. So.

Cory Connors:

That's excellent. I was talking to a friend yesterday. Who's a industry expert on corrugated that's that's his thing. And he was talking about how OCC or old corrugated cartons are at an all time high for because we need them, we need to make more corrugated. So I think you'll see those recycling rates continue to improve. I hope because we sure needed that corrugated in the system.

Colin Rowland:

Yeah, absolutely. No. And I'm sure I'm sure there will be the more, it becomes more commonplace.

Cory Connors:

Yeah. Do you feel like the home meal kit delivery system is still gaining traction or do you think it's kind of reached a plateau for.

Colin Rowland:

No, I think it's and certainly with COVID, as we know, accelerated the platform for online and online food it's, it's growth has been, and it will continue to be for a couple of years. Yeah. At least, you know, exponential. But I, and I firmly believe these big online meal kit delivery components. And I know where they are. They don't need them any free advertising, but they've got a huge responsibility. For me to not pass on the issue of disposing of their packaging, to their customers you know, by first ensuring that customers can easily recycle their packaging and make it curbside, recyclable. You know, don't bring more ship, pull it or what it is 6:00 PM. It might be organic. It might be biodegradable, but it needs to be curbside recyclable. You know, it's again, I, I say that they pass on this problem is because the recycling recycling per se is not a huge problem for most people. It's not a huge worry or a concern. And certainly around the world it's even less. So Don't make this a quandary for someone don't make it hard to do, make it easy for them. So, and I, and I, and I think that startup companies want to be meal kit , rivals are all looking at these big companies, you know, like a parent, I get asked it so many times, so many times to me. Yeah. We want to create something like, you know and that's who we aspire to be. Right. So a real responsibility to take the lead here and show all of these others the way it should be. And that's what we're appealing to. That's what we're trying to say to people, you know, recycled box ticks every one of those boxes. And yeah, right now, like most new innovations, it's a little bit more costly than the unrecyclable dang, but we have enough. We'll get it down there and we'll get it into the right sweet spot for you.

Cory Connors:

I agree. It's exciting. It's an exciting time to be a part of packaging. It's an even more exciting time to be a part of the solution of packaging, which in my opinion is sustainable packaging. So thank you for what you're doing. It's totally necessary. And just very, very important right now and all with. Yeah, thank you. So how do people get in touch with you if they're ready to explore your products or maybe design something for their application?

Colin Rowland:

Yeah, absolutely. They can always do that. And again, we're not just about what we see on our website, which is coolbox solutions.co.uk. We do bespoke systems too. We'll do a half a box if you only want a half a box doing so we're all about, you know, contact us, ask us the question. So the website is the first one we're on Twitter at box. Instagram the same callbacks limited and of course, Facebook as well, if they want to reach out to us, but get to us on our website, leave us a question, throw a quandary at us and we'll get back to you and we'll answer it. And we, we're not stopping here, you know, Recyclebox now, flagship. But we're already moving on to versions two and three and do innovations too. So it's a really, really exciting period, Corey and I'm in a young company that is already moving. It's been a whirlwind in the last four or five months. So it's been really, really good news for

Cory Connors:

us. Well, that's very exciting. Please keep me posted on, on the new packages and the new concepts. I'm excited to share those with with our.

Colin Rowland:

Right. Yeah, I sure will. I sure

Cory Connors:

will. Thank you, sir. I'd like to thank Landsberg Orora for your sponsorship and continued support of this podcast. If you're listening, please take a minute to review and subscribe and tell your friends about us. Thank you again, Colin . We really appreciate this.

Colin Rowland:

No problem. Thanks for having me.