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Idealog's Most Innovative in Sustainability/Environmental: For The Better Good

The winner of Idealog's Most Innovative Companies in Sustainability/Environmental is For The Better Good. It’s the scourge of every environmentally conscious consumer: the detested single-use plastic bottle. There should be a better way, and now there is: Jayden Klinac has created a social enterprise that produces water bottles made entirely from plants – corn, potatoes and sugar – which are also compostable.

The company – For the Better Good – makes drinking containers with a manufacturing carbon footprint 78 percent smaller than traditional plastics in production. They are reusable (the company has even set up a network of free refill stations throughout New Zealand), compostable, and break down in less than 27 days.

And while there’s been no ‘official’ launch yet, it hasn't stopped the company from attracting the interest of plenty of image-conscious brands.

“Everything to date has been through social media and word of mouth,” says Klinac. “We have no sales or marketing team, but we have over 70 stockists, over 120 refill stations and have done brand partnerships with ASB, Universal Music and Volvo.

“We have another brand partnership with Harcourts Real Estate that will see 12,000 bottles given to primary school kids as part of an education programme where we aim to teach them about plastic, reuse, composting and growing food.”

It’s a social enterprise with big ambitions. Klinac says that from production to final destination, the company takes full responsibility for its product.

“We have set up our own collection network for users to drop bottles back for us to ensure they are composted,” he says.

“We are currently trialing the recycling of our material before having it composted and some used bottles have been repurposed into planter pots. Our lids are being turned into reusable coffee cups and we’re setting up our own compost facilities in places which currently do not have them.”

“We have a circular economy,” he says, “with multiple circles within it.”

“Plus, every box sold also plants a tree.”

The goal is nothing less than water without waste in an industry described as the pinnacle of plastic pollution. That’s a big ask of course, and research and development took three years before a product materialised.

“We explored all sorts of materials, making plastic from locally grown plants such as hemp.”

“We can now make anything which is currently made from oil out of renewable feedstocks. These can live in our circular system which stretches from above Auckland to Queenstown. This not only makes plastic-waste free, but keeps carbon in the ground, not the atmosphere. This can save taxpayers millions in the waste issues we are currently facing in New Zealand and worldwide.”

And it’s that circular system which is the key, says Klinac. “At a typical cafe, 50 percent of waste is food, 20 percent is packaging. If that packaging is made from plants and compostable, you just need one collection bin and you can not only divert 70 percent of waste from landfill, but you turn ‘waste’ into a valuable resource.”

And the company is thinking big in what it can achieve: 70 percent of ocean plastic by weight comes from developing countries with little education or infrastructure, Klinac says, and it’s here that there is a profound opportunity to do better.

“Our goal is to use the developed countries we stock to support neighbouring under-developed countries, operated as not-for-profit wings of our business,” he says.

“Imagine a resort in Fiji, where instead of plastic entering the ocean or being burnt, it was composted with food scraps, providing jobs for locals, significantly less carbon output from end to end and compost for the growing of local fruit and vegetables.

“We can end plastic pollution.”

That’s the grand plan, but in the meantime, the business is looking to make consumers feel empowered by their simple daily actions – such as buying a bottle of water – rather than defeated in the face of the world’s problems.

“Humans want to do good, they're just not always provided with the opportunity to do so,” he explains.

“We want to provide a choice in these moments with additional opportunities to empower people with everyday purchases.”

View the full list of Idealog's Most Innovative Companies here

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