Separating yourself from the pack with B Corp, Grounded Packaging

Fighting back against this era of fast-paced consumerism and convenience-driven shopping, Certified B Corporations like Grounded Packaging are investing heavily in sustainable packaging solutions and giving conscious businesses a way to separate themselves from the pack.

With a signature style of flexible packaging and a number of exciting plastic alternatives, what Grounded is doing represents the future of packaging materials and technology. Focused on replacing traditional plastics in the supply chain and utilising the latest in digital prototyping, let’s find out how they do it.

Grounded packaging

Image: Grounded Packaging

Is the war on plastic warranted?

Sustainability packaging solutions for conscious brands — that’s the ‘MO’ of Certified B Corporation, Grounded Packaging. On a mission to eradicate single-use plastics from the supply chain and the environment, with a specific focus on flexible packaging, their approach involves developing materials uniquely tailored to their customers’ requirements. 

“Plastics have been pivotal in shaping the modern industry. They are cheap. Extremely versatile. And they have been put to use extensively in almost every corner of every industry. However, you can have too much of a good thing, and that is most certainly the case with plastic.”

— Grounded Packaging

According to Grounded, 95% of packaging is used only once and then discarded. A whopping 32% of all plastic manufactured escapes collection, and of that, a staggering eight million tonnes end up in our oceans every year. 

While plastic straws and plastic bags have become the visible face of the problem, it only scratches the surface. With the aim of replacing the use of non-recyclable oil-based plastics throughout commercial production and retail environments, Grounded has developed a wide range of alternative materials that meet the needs of different businesses and product sets, all designed to work within specific end-of-life systems that work. 

Grounded packaging materials and dimensions

Image: Grounded Packaging

The role of digital prototyping in choosing plastic alternatives for your business

In a world of finite resources, it’s no secret that we need to do more with less. While they say there is no ‘right’ answer or silver bullet for sustainable packaging, what the hard-working team at Grounded have developed is a number of software tools to expedite and simplify the transition to sustainable packaging.

Through their revolutionary digital prototyping tool, Blueprint, Grounded is able to streamline the packaging development cycle and surface sustainability data for each product. 

“Businesses often come to us wanting to be told what the ‘right’ solution is, and unfortunately, the answer to that is almost always ‘it depends.’ Everything has its pros and cons regardless of what people will tell you, and that extends to functionality, cost, and also sustainability factors like carbon footprint and end-of-life. From a purely sustainability perspective when we look at material solutions we evaluate two core factors: carbon and circularity.”

— Grounded Packaging

And all of it is done digitally first, so that businesses can access real-time circularity and carbon footprint data to build comparative reports about which products or packaging best suits their needs and goals. 

Grounded packaging details

Image: Grounded Packaging

Giving complete visibility on production, supply chain and life cycle impact for each of their products, Grounded helps other businesses assess the environmental impact of their packaging supply chain, establish product roadmaps, and make informed decisions aligned with their sustainability goals. It then provides packaging specific sustainability and impact data for reporting and decision making purposes, and also to support marketing activities.

“To usher in a new era of responsible packaging starts with being transparent about the impact of products. Going beyond carbon emissions to covering material circularity metrics, businesses can understand material performance and identify areas for improvement.”

Getting sustainable packaging ‘right’ for your business

While there is no silver bullet when it comes to packaging, according to Grounded, there is certainly ‘better’ and there is definitely a wrong way.

“Designing for efficiency is by far the most important consideration. It is very difficult to reverse design decisions once they are embedded in a business, with processes and supply chains built around them. You can’t unscramble an omelette, so the best thing is always to give yourself or your business the chance to design properly upfront.”

— Grounded Packaging

For example, you’re a business in the coffee industry. Well, packaging for coffee has unique requirements, including the need for degassing valves and resealable zippers. Grounded has created a range of suitable and sustainable packaging materials, including certified compostable coffee bags and degassing valves, and a range of recyclable coffee bags that utilise up to 80% post-consumer recycled content.

Coffee beans

Image: Canva

For retail and e-commerce companies, Grounded focuses on how to incorporate 100% recycled poly to home compostable to plastic-free paper alternatives, as well as things like corrugated mailers. 

For companies manufacturing personal care products that often contain active ingredients, which can react with certain packaging materials, their extensive experience and R&D helps ensure consumer safety and hygiene, protecting the product from exposure to air, light and moisture. 

Right now, there are so many exciting plastic alternatives, including:

  • Plantmade™ — Made with nature and designed to replicate nature’s perfect recycling system, employing rapidly renewable plant-based materials that can be composted or recycled.
  • Wastemade™ — Made with less, this post-consumer recycled range creates value from trash to fuel circular systems and a low carbon economy.
  • Papermade™ — Circular by design, these products are made from FSC certified, 100% post-consumer recycled material and can be recycled kerbside, globally.

“By implementing closed loop systems, promoting product reuse, recycling and responsible disposal, we can not only reduce environmental impact but also create a regenerative economy. Embracing circular economy principles will not only benefit the planet but also foster inclusive growth and drive positive change.”

— Grounded Packaging

Beyond growth-at-all-costs to impactful business on purpose

A business driven by more than profit is, in many ways, inherently challenging of the capitalist and exploitative status quo that’s been many decades (centuries) in the making. 

As such, B Corps, and purpose-driven business more generally, are fundamentally disrupting the way things have ‘always been done’ by putting more than profit at the centre. While we have a way to go before circular economy practices are considered the norm across industries, part of being a Certified B Corporation means countering the detrimental effects of the traditional growth-at-all-costs approach. And this is exactly how Grounded approached certification: 

“Recognising the spiralling environmental crisis and growing economic and social divide, we believed that it was time for business to step up and be a force for good. It’s time to move beyond doing less harm and start actively restoring what has been lost. By certifying as a B Corp, we aim to demonstrate through our actions that a different path is possible, one that showcases our commitment to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and ethical business practices.”

— Grounded Packaging
Grounded packaging examples

Image: Grounded Packaging

Grounded’s four pillars of positive impact

In an industry they label as “complex and full of greenwashing”, the problems are large and the solutions required are nuanced. Inspired by Patagonia and others, Grounded set about creating an inherently impactful business model from the ground up. 

“We knew at the outset we wanted to create a business model that solved real world problems. We strive for a business practice where products are designed with the entire lifecycle in mind, aiming for zero waste and maximum resource efficiency. Appreciating that we can only solve one problem at a time, we have designed our wider business to have as great an impact as we can, to not just be ‘less bad’ but to actively try and achieve positive outcomes. We refer to it as our four pillars of positive impact.”

— Grounded Packaging

The cumulative effect of these pillars are significant, and perhaps what Grounded is most proud of as a business. They are:

  1. Data > guesswork

Providing education and transparent sustainability data, where previously it has been very difficult to come by, to help businesses be better informed and make decisions based on data not guesswork. 

  1. R&D before R&R

Before they can rest and relax, they have a comprehensive program of R&D to develop a suite of materials that use the maximum amount of renewable or recycled content, and offer the greatest opportunities for effective recycling or composting. 

  1. Carbon reduction and offset

Dramatically reducing carbon emissions through supply chains, and offsetting anything that remains, Grounded has built a proprietary impact calculator that allows them to accurately model and understand the carbon footprint from various packaging materials.

  1. Give more than you take

Every order is engineered to remove more carbon than is produced from the manufacturing and transportation of customer orders. Grounded do this by restoring multiple blue carbon coastal ecosystems that have a positive impact on the oceans and life it supports.

Image: Canva

Be realistic and go all in, tips on completing the B Impact Assessment

Used by more than 100,000 companies globally to manage and measure their impact, B Lab’s B Impact Assessment is powered by a set of social and environmental standards developed by B Lab over 15 years. Its usage for self-assessment, benchmarking and improvement is completely free and confidential, and it is adaptable and easy to use. 

While it is the first step on the B Corp Certification journey, it might simply be your business’ next step on the journey to purpose-driven business. For Grounded, it acted as a sort-of magnifying glass for all aspects of their business, with some surprising results:

“The BIA provides a comprehensive deep dive into all aspects of your business and it is important to go into the process with the knowledge that it will take some time, and that you probably are not quite ready, despite the fact that you might think you are. The earlier you do it the better, because the bigger you are, the harder and more complex the process can be. If you are able to do it early, it provides an excellent foundation on which to build your business.”  

— Grounded Packaging

Just as the issues we face as a society are complex, so too are the businesses trying to solve them. The BIA, by nature, encourages you to consider things that are outside your core competencies or focus areas, making it a “really powerful structural tool, one that can and should form the basis of a process for continual improvement.” And finally, their top tip for any business looking to join the ranks of the B Corp movement: 

“Give someone close to the inner workings of the business the responsibility to lead the process. Be realistic about the length of time it will take, and just start.”

A big thank you to the team at Grounded Packaging for taking the time to share its B Corp Certification journey with us. To find out more, visit:

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