Plastic has long been identified as a problem from its origin in crude oil to its eventual destination in polluting the natural world. Following two years of intensive research and development, as of this year, LMF’s entire product line has transitioned to bio-based plastics. Derived from renewable crops including corn, sugar cane and tree cellulose, bio-based plastics provide a way to effectively bypass the oil industry while providing a product with properties like conventional plastic. Calill Odqvist Jagusch, LMF’s CEO, said,
“By experimenting with various bio-based plastics, we’ve found a solution that meets our sustainability objectives while not compromising on our product’s functionality and durability.”
Bio-based plastics are still in their infancy and, as it wants to share its knowledge, it has a fully transparent overview of all product materials and suppliers in ‘Let’s Talk Materials’.
In 2017, LMF decided to be one of the first companies to stop waiting for demand to grow and take the initiative in production. In a feature in Suston magazine, Odqvist Jagusch has been quoted as saying,
We set a goal: In 2019, our entire product range would consist of biobased plastics. Plastics have become an increasingly controversial material in recent years, among both consumers and politicians. Light My Fire owns our own factory in Sweden, where we produce products made of plastic. As a company, we have to help change from this mentality of disposable and single-use items, and at the same time start using materials that have less of an impact on the environment. We want to be part of it and help make the change!
The fact that we own our own factory is a great asset when it comes to cooperating with suppliers. They need to test and adapt their materials. For example, SK Chemicals in South Korea, one of the world’s largest companies in the industry, has had their technicians out visiting us several times. The development has been a joint process, whereby we look at what happens to materials if, for example, temperatures are increased a few degrees during the melting. The suppliers benefit greatly from participating in the manufacturing phase.”
In addition to making its entire product line 100% bio-based, this year, LMF will also set its sights on single-use packaging by exchanging the packaging of several products with secondary purpose bags – CircBags. As well as their reusability, CircBags are themselves sustainably designed using recycled material; currently, RePET, made from recycled water bottles. Initially intended to replace its plastic packaging, LMF also quickly realized it had a useful product so they will also be available for purchase, representing another step in the brand’s journey to be a more sustainable company.
Time and again, it is members of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group (SOG) who take a practical lead in not only raising supply chain sustainability issues but also tackling them head-on. The SOG was established in 2000 and currently has 67 member companies representing outdoor brands from the Nordic countries. I asked its General Secretary Sara Wänseth why its members are so pro-active. She told me,
We do have a long tradition of a strong engagement when it comes to environmental issues and sustainability here in Scandinavia. We do have pretty strong legislation and we are also living quite close to nature. I think that we do try to live as we learn, and we do learn to take care of nature from when we were kids. It’s natural to us. Also, quality and safety are natural parts when it comes to product development in the Nordic countries and since the price pressure is not that dominant here, it works.
And we now add sustainability as a clear focus in the product development. Also, when it comes to sustainability, we need to do this together and the willingness to co-operate is quite high within the Scandinavian outdoor brands. The community is working closely together here and we try to help and support each other.”
- The Guardian Goes Bioplastics
- The Washington Post Writes About Bioplastics
- National Geographic Published an Article on Bioplastics
- BBC Data on Plastics Packaging
- Forbes is Pro Bioplastics
This article was published on forbes.com and written by John Traynor