Statistics show that over 660 thousand tonnes of plastic waste are created by Australians every year with 85 per cent of soft plastics from bags and packaging ending up in landfill. The research also found that 80 per cent of people were concerned about the plastic in their environment and that more than two thirds of consumers want sustainable packaging and guarantees that products are sourced fairly.
Sustainable products business Munch has been at the forefront of plastic-free alternatives since it was launched in 2014, says founder Anna Bordignon.
“We offer seminars, tips to help reduce plastics and a range that is fully reusable with plastic alternatives like sustainably sourced bamboo, silicone and organic fabrics,” she says.
“This is something I really believe in and the Munch range truly reflects my advocacy for eco-conscious products for all ages and homes.”
But even before the current plastic free movement and drives like Plastic Free July, Bordignon saw the damage that plastic was doing to our planet.
“I consider myself to be a trail blazer and can proudly say our products have helped to save over one million pieces of plastic on our community. Every year we also deliver our annual Sustainability and Social Impact Report that outlines what we are doing to contribute―it also offers complete transparency into our business and our social impact.
“I do regular talks and school programs on the subject and are known for my advocacy. It’s not just a business for me; it’s a way of life and something I see as being important for my kids, and all children, to see that adults are doing. As I say, we have not inherited the earth from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our children’.”
Indeed, seven years ago she followed her passion for children, the environment and for helping those in need by starting Munch.
“I used this passion to create Munch which is very much about empowering families to change the world. Even before the current plastic free movement, I saw the damage that plastic was doing to our planet. As a mother of three young children, I really wasn’t happy sitting by and watching this.
“I was originally from a legal background, but my desire to make a difference led me to start Munch and offer an alternative range of eco -friendly products for parents and the home. I like to consider myself a trail blazer and always looking for ways to innovate with plastic-free alternatives and offer ideas about how to improve our impact on the environment.”
Munch offers a reusable and sustainable eco solution to plastics for the kitchen, laundry and home. The business is pure and simple in design and function, eco-friendly and plastic free, with nearly all the products being reusable, organic and biodegradable.
The range includes reusable beeswax snack bags, organic litterless lunch bags, silicone baby feeders, bamboo cutlery sets, bamboo dish brushes, eco dishcloths and organic fire starters with even more innovative products now available in Australia.
"Since the beginning we have focused on bringing fun, useful, quality products out which are affordable for everyday families. It's important to be appealing and accessible to most people―to empower them to be more sustainable," says Bordignon.
Last month Munch celebrated one million pieces of plastic being saved from landfill by buying its plastic-free reusable alternatives since the business was established in 2014.
"Hitting this one million milestone is a Munch customer community achievement. By choosing our reusable products over the years, together we have saved all that plastic from being used and sent to the landfill," she enthuses.
The Munch team is now working on doubling that amount, targeting two million pieces of plastic to be saved by 2023. They continue to offer new plastic-free alternatives for the kitchen and laundry and are now stocked in IGA and leading health food shops, seeing the demand for affordable reusable products increase in recent years.
The number of pieces of plastic saved by customers buying Munch is an estimate, which Bordignon says is based on the number of reusable food wraps, snack bags and other reusable products the business has produced since starting in 2014. Each of those Munch items has replaced 100s and possibly 1,000s of pieces of single-use plastic as they are re-used time and again by New Zealand and Australian households.
Munch has been a strong voice in plastic-free campaigns over several years and its latest project is to collect and repurpose silicone in New Zealand and soon in Australia. The Silicone Send Back project collects any brand of food grade silicone products no longer being used and is the first project of its kind across Australasia to start repurposing post-consumer silicone. There are now several collection points for food grade silicone set up in the community, in retail stores and resource recovery centres.
“This scheme will allow consumers to send back their silicone for repurposing. Every customer that does this currently in New Zealand receives $10 off their next Munch purchase so it’s a great incentive to help the planet. It’s all part of our product stewardship premise: we try our best to design and make our products to last (or made with biodegradable materials) and then put in place systems to enable products to be reused and recycled when they are worn out.”
Bordignon adds she sees a huge need to offer Aussie parents and homeowners a range that is not only plastic-free, but robust and practical in its design.
“Over 660 thousand tonnes of plastic waste are created by Australians every year with 85 per cent of soft plastics from bags and packaging ending up in landfill. I am also seeing a big microplastics problem in both New Zealand and Australia, polluting rivers, waterways and oceans―this is particularly relevant in Australia with its precious coastline and Barrier Reef. All good reasons to launch Munch into a market that is ready for change. We are keen to speak to like-minded distributors in Australia in the parenting and gift areas as we know we offer an alternative.
“I’d like to think that Australians are just as concerned with sustainability as Kiwis. We see sales increasing in Australia which is a good sign that Aussies are also very interested in supporting and buying ethically made products. We are sure there are many more ready to be part of a bigger picture to help our environment and raise little eco-warriors along the way.”
Anna and her team are proud product stewardship advocates, taking responsibility for the products they make, sell and buy so they’re not ending up in landfill. This includes looking at how each product is made, how it will be disposed and where the product range is made.
“I believe social impact is just as important as our environmental impact and sustainable ideals. It’s important to me to empower women to be included in the economy and to use their skills―this has been shown to lift a whole community up.
“We’re proud to provide flexible and fair work to our New Zealand outwork team and our organic cotton supplier is a Fairtrade accredited company in India, which gives back to social initiatives in its own community. We are part of the international B1G1 Buy One Give One program. We have chosen to support girls in education programs and access to fresh water through B1G1.”
All packaging has been carefully considered and recycled with most products sourced from ethical communities or made by the Munch home workforce of women. All suppliers abide to a 10-point questionnaire that relates to human rights and sustainable practices.
“Right from the start we have worked with a sustainable, social and ethical premise. We are as much about social impact as we are about environmental impact,” she adds.
“This means supporting women in jobs, developing school programs and other grass-roots activities to help make a more positive impact. I’m all about responsible ethics―Munch feeds minds and feeds the community.
“A lot of our products are made fairly through our unique home workforce –something I am very proud of. There are over 30 women currently working for me who would not have had this opportunity to work. We bring flexible work to their home, enabling them to earn an income and be part of a company with purpose.
“We also use Fair Trade and ethically sourced materials. We are Kiwi based and well known in New Zealand, but very much an international company and look forward to Australians embracing the Munch philosophy and range even further.