SupplyCompass speaks to Josh Bowden, Co-Founder of noissue, a New Zealand-headquartered sustainable packaging company that’s changing the status quo when it comes to e-commerce packaging. Interestingly, they didn’t set out to be a tissue company; they were born as a result of looking at packaging options for a previous endeavour and not finding exactly what they needed. They now offer a suite of sustainable packaging options—from tissue and stickers to compostable mailers—for brands worldwide and are on an ambitious international expansion plan to set a new norm when it comes to eco packaging.
In Conversation With is SupplyCompass' interview series, highlighting fashion brands from around the globe who are balancing people, profit and planet, and are leading the way when it comes to responsible business.
Tell us more about noissue. and how you started?
noissue is a platform that offers makers, brands and businesses of all sizes sustainable and custom packaging.
Augie, my co-founder, and I came up with the idea for noissue during another venture. We had started a sustainable eyewear brand making frames from waste materials, and when it came to to do the packaging it obviously had to be sustainable as well to be on-brand. We ended up doing it ourselves and it turned out our eyewear stockists, who were small retailers, were just as interested in the packaging as they were the eyewear!
So we sort of stumbled into it, and after a bit of research, we realised there were very few places small businesses could go to get sustainable packaging that showcased their brand.
What’s been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment to date?
The whole experience has been pretty amazing, really. I am really proud of our community milestones because of what they represent. When we hit 150,000 followers on Instagram, it was really exciting because it was an endorsement of the global community of creative businesses, big and small, that we’ve built. I also never tire of hearing customer feedback, especially in person. Meeting customers from around the world and hearing about their experience with noissue never gets old!
What does sustainability mean to you, and how does this translate to your business?
I think it’s about behaving in a way that protects the world’s resources and the people who live in it. For noissue specifically, we obviously have our products, but I think in the wider sense of our business it is about making decisions with a long term view in mind. This means we think about what our business will look like in 5 years and translate this back into a vision, which then guides us in our thinking and actions.
Acting for the long term automatically sets you up to make decisions that result in a more sustainable business.
It's about behaving in a way that protects the world’s resources and the people who live in it. For noissue, it is about making decisions with a long term view in mind. This means we think about what our business will look like in 5 years and translate this back into a vision, which then guides us in our thinking and actions.
How do you define sustainable packaging? What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to sustainability within packaging?
There are many ways which packaging can be defined as sustainable—at noissue, we have three frameworks for noissue products which ensure our customers have access to high-quality packaging which is environmentally friendly. Those three frameworks are compostable, recycled and reusable.
When we started our entire range was compostable (home and commercial) but have since developed noissue recycled products made from ex-consumer and commercial waste, and noissue products that are reusable. Each framework has its own special benefits but also ways in which it can be improved. For instance, if a compostable product does not end up in the compost it loses a lot of its sustainable value. This is one of the challenges for sustainable packaging—controlling the end result where the product ends up.
I think another challenge when it comes to sustainable packaging is the amount of innovation and therefore the amount of products/options out there. The drive behind the innovation to be more sustainable is fantastic and has led to some awesome new developments, but the sheer volume of choices do make it hard to distinguish what is actually best, and in some cases, there is no right or wrong answer.
What’s a big misconception you wish people knew about packaging?
That packaging cannot be beautiful as well as sustainable! You don’t always have to compromise one for the other, the two can go hand in hand. I think the same misconception has been around in the fashion industry, too, but it’s changing as consumer’s values change and we’re seeing lots of leading brands trial sustainable materials, and lots of new high-quality sustainable brands emerge.
What advice would you give to brands wanting to be more responsible?
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information out there. Focus on one aspect of your business at a time, it could be your supply chain, finances, packaging, team. And then take steps towards educating yourself and your team to improve your practices one day at a time. If you try to do it all at once, it will make it difficult to achieve tangible results.
Also, you can follow and/or ask what other brands you look up to are doing to get inspiration.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information out there. Focus on one aspect of your business at a time, it could be your supply chain, finances, packaging, team. And then take steps towards educating yourself and your team to improve your practices one day at a time.
What does the future look like for noissue.?
We’re going to continue to listen to our customers regarding what they want from us.
We’re also focused on growing our global community, which is wide-ranging and includes all of our customers, such as the small business owners and makers, the creatives helping design our products and our industry partners. 2021 will be a big year for us with many exciting things planned in the pipeline, so stay tuned!