Rutronik News

It’s a wrap!

  Newsletter Article

Ecological issues are in the public spotlight, not least due to the “Fridays for Future” protests of recent months. The movement is campaigning against environmental pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources. Among other things, plastic packaging is the focus of public debates. Politicians are currently considering introducing a law to ban environmentally harmful single-use carrier bags; many stores and supermarkets already provide alternatives. And even though prominent journalists such as FAZ editor Philipp Krohn are asking the unsolvable question of how they are supposed to safely carry their watermelons home in the future, the final knell is sounding for plastic packaging. At Rutronik24, we think that’s a good thing!

 

Although there is a general consensus that plastic packaging and carrier bangs must be reduced and only a few diehard opponents, climate change deniers, and somewhat inept journalists are resisting such calls, many of the alternatives are not exactly uncontroversial. Major supermarkets are currently providing paper bags, but their ecological footprint is no better than that of a plastic bag: "It is estimated that single-use bags made from fresh paper fibers would have to be used three times more often than oil-based plastic bags to offset the environmental impact. It takes a great deal of energy and water to produce the cellulose needed for paper bags," writes NABU, one of Germany's largest conservation groups. Apart from that, the bags tend to split. And believe us, a red wine, cottage cheese, and minced beef smoothie stylishly served on asphalt is definitely not as great as you would think and at best only of interest to hipsters.

Even sustainable solutions such as cotton bags take a lot of energy to produce and are only good for the environment if they are actually used several times. Besides, the plastic madness is not limited to carrier bags. Twitter users eagerly highlight cases of the weirdest and most nonsensical plastic packaging, including individually packaged bananas, mini Tic Tac boxes in another larger pack, and Deutsche Post advertising brochures that are sent to every household wrapped in plastic film. It seems that consumers are fighting a losing battle when it comes to avoiding plastic. Furthermore, besides the ecological factor, consumers on lower incomes also have to consider the economic aspect and ask themselves whether they can even afford the sustainable option.

A Berlin start-up has come up with a relatively cost-effective, innovative alternative for plastic packaging: beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap. Organic cotton cloths form the basis, which are then coated with beeswax, resin, and jojoba oil. This allows food to breathe while preventing it from drying out. The wraps are washable and can be used for about a year and then even used as barbecue lighters or similar. The start-up beeskin procures its raw materials from Europe: The organic cotton comes from Turkey, the resin from Austria, and the wax from Germany. Only the jojoba oil must be sourced from Israel by the company founders, Christina and Christian Sauer. Despite global warming, jojoba shrubs fortunately do not grow in Germany (yet).

The company, which was only founded last September, is growing steadily, with 3,000 articles produced per month most recently. The plan is to make the production operation ten to twenty times larger. Anyone who is worried that this approach is depriving the bees of their hard-earned wax can rest assured: the beekeepers only take old wax from the hives that has already incubated. In addition, the aim of beeskin is not to make a profit: "Europe represents a red line for us," says company founder Christina Sauer. There are no plans to expand into Asia, even though there have already been inquiries: Chinese traders wanted to source their wax from Argentina and manufacture the wraps in China - the polar opposite of sustainability. Furthermore, beeskin operates solely with its own capital - there are no external financiers and no plans to get any on board.

In short, it's a great product, particularly since beeskin has already on three occasions been able to cut the price for a multiset of wraps in three different sizes to the current price of 17.99 euros. That is still too much for the supermarkets; Christian Sauer feels that a price of ten euros is necessary before the product can find its way onto the shelves of the large chains. The wraps can currently be bought from health stores, while wholesalers export them to other European countries. The aim of beeskin is to use the company's growth and associated demand to promote sustainable beekeeping.

However brilliant this may sound, there are still a couple of flies in the ointment: Firstly, vegans reject the wraps, because they are made using beeswax. Secondly, and much more importantly, they are impractical for everyday use: The wraps are not suitable for use with all foods. They cannot be used to wrap raw meat, for example, because they can only be washed in cold water rather than hot. Pineapples also cannot be kept in them, because the enzymes attack the wax. The wraps are also generally unsuitable for oily products and substances containing alcohol.

But in a country where there are more than 5,000 different kinds of beer and around 3,000 kinds of bread, using more than one kind of eco-friendly packaging at the same time shouldn't really be a problem, should it?