Eco-Friendly Biodegradable E-Commerce Parcel Packaging

The excessive use of plastic packaging in many of our consumption behaviors has been a concern for a long time.

Over the years, we’ve certainly seen several startups tackle the problem, typically in the F&B industry.

One of the ones we talked about recently was Circlepac, which makes and sells compostable food packaging after seeing the growing demand for food deliveries during MCO.

With online shopping also increasingly tilted, a startup decided to tackle the problem with plastic parcel packaging for e-commerce.

Plastic that disappears

Sold by Deva’s company, Startachi, StartPack Compostable Packages says it all in its name. The parcel bag can completely decompose in 180 days and is made from plant-based materials like cornstarch and PBAT.

Dictionary time: Short for polybutyrate adipate terephthalate, PBAT is a flexible and easily decomposable copolymer.

To dispose of it properly, they advise customers to cut the package into small pieces before putting it in a compost bin. Of course, it can decompose in a landfill even if it ends up there, although it takes a lot longer – around 2-3 years – to do so.

Eco-friendly parcel packaging seems like a great idea for consumers and businesses. However, it comes at a high cost that businesses may not be willing to jump in so quickly.

Convince online sellers to convert

Since the material of the StartPack decomposes, it can only be stored for 10-12 months in a dark and cool environment.

Startachi currently only has one size available (260 x 385 mm) for its satchels. For a size comparison, it is slightly larger than Poslaju’s M size flyer pack, capable of holding up to 1.5kg.

A set of 50 for StartPack binders costs RM59. Compare that to those in size M in Poslaju, sellers could get the same amount for just RM11.

Speaking to Vulcan Post, Deva explained that regular plastics are cheaper due to their high demand in various industries. It is also easy to mass-produce and cheaper.

“While compostable packaging has not been adopted by many. I believe that when large companies start to adopt compostable and sustainable packaging, the price will eventually drop, equal to that of regular plastic, ”he said.

As of now, Startachi’s customers include small sellers on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy. Deva added that the company is taking additional steps to introduce StartPack to larger companies during the transition.

With climate change and the detrimental effects of single-use plastics being a somewhat neglected issue in our country, Startachi has a huge void to fill. To convince companies to make the change, we must first educate them.

You can also use the packaging as flower pots / Image credit: Startachi

Therefore, Deva is already planning to run such promotions online while collaborating with influencers to educate customers.

Since its launch in February 2021, Startachi already has 6 customers who have purchased the StartPack Compostable Parcels, a promising development for Deva.

“In addition, my sister’s art company, Fullachi, sent almost 50 packages with our packaging. That means they saved 50 plastics (and more) from going to the landfill or ending up on the ocean floor, ”the hopeful environmentalist said.

Of course, this also comes with awareness and responsibility on the part of end consumers. Thus, companies using StartPacks should provide instructions on how to dispose of the packaging responsibly.

A triggering moment

A conservationist from a young age, keeping the trash off the streets and deterring the family from throwing out the trash has always been Deva’s personal mission.

Later in college, sustainable construction was a taught module in his interior design course. The subject has only increased its plot for the environment.

Over time, he came across articles, news and social media posts about climate change. He observed, “Everything I learned gave me a glimpse of what I should do instead of feeling bad.”

Starting off small, he and his brother created their first zero waste product in 2019, a kitchen dish scrub made from coconut (a fibrous material found between the inner and outer shell). Just like StartPack, it was 100% compostable and was sold in zero waste stores.

Their kitchen scrubs are made from coconut shells / Image credit: Startachi

But it was not enough. He still worked part-time for his sister’s art business packaging products in layers of plastic bubble wrap. Worried, he wondered, “If we as a company produce so much waste, what about consumers who buy from multiple companies?”

His concern grew as he thought about it, especially after reading that Malaysians were named as Asia’s worst plastic polluters in February last year.

“I understand, there are many areas we need to cover if we are to completely stop single-use plastic pollution, but I can’t do it alone. As an individual, I thought I could do something more impactful by focusing on one area. ”

That something was under his nose all the time, something he already did on the daily delivery packages. Coaching his siblings once again, a year of R&D while researching alternatives brought them onto compostable parcel packaging.

As Malaysia does not have the facilities to manufacture such products, wholesale orders are currently outsourced from Australia. To offset carbon emissions from maritime transport, Startachi finances climate projects involved in forestry and renewable energies.

Deva added that the team is already in talks with a few local businesses to make the compostable binders here.

For now, he’s keeping Startachi’s goals modest by first getting more companies to switch to their compostable parcel packaging.

The packaging of compostable parcels is completely new in our country and it is absolutely foreign to most people who are not even aware of climate change and plastic pollution. What we are trying to do is a slow process but worth it.

Deva Darishiny Kunasantar, co-founder of Startachi.

  • You can read more about Startachi here.
  • You can read more about the Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.

Featured Image Credit: Deva Darishiny Kunasantar, Startachi Co-Founder

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Jothi Venkat

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