Making unimpeachable sustainability claims reassures customers and consumers

At the start of 2021 and in advance of July’s European legislation banning single-use plastic items such as cutlery, California-based EcoTensil® introduced its revolutionary new AquaDot© range of plastic-free, taste-neutral, sturdy paperboard cutlery into Europe.

As part of the preparations for the launch, EcoTensil set out to ensure that it could legitimately make a range of claims around the product’s environmental sustainability criteria, including Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) compliance.

We talk to EcoTensil founder and CEO Peggy Cross about the importance of making unimpeachable sustainability claims to reassure customers and consumers.

Proving sustainability claims

“When we recently launched our plastic-free AquaDot cutlery, including designs specific for to-go packaging, we wanted to ensure that we had every relevant proof-point to support the environmental sustainability claims we are making. However, we discovered that most people are confused by the many certifications around this subject, and the prevalence of greenwashing. So, to be very clear, we’ve put in considerable work to ensure that we can make impeccable sustainability statements.”

EcoTensil’s patented and award-winning paperboard utensils are well known and loved in North America, and since 2010 the company has sold hundreds of millions of units globally, including to some of Europe’s largest food manufacturers and retailers. Suppliers of food services and food and packaging manufacturers have quickly embraced EcoTensil’s plastic-free AquaDot folding EcoSpoon® as a ready replacement for plastic. They are also doing so because it works seamlessly with many existing packages and processes, has a more positive impact on the taste of food than wooden cutlery, and significantly outlasts any other folding paper utensil we have tried.

“For many years, EcoTensil products have set the standard for the greenest utensils available, and our new, longer lasting AquaDot range continues that tradition. The work Europe is doing to reduce single-use plastic sets a great example for the world, and EcoTensil is very pleased to support companies in meeting their plastic reduction goals with our wonderfully simple folding paperboard ‘multi-tensils’.

“Ensuring we have all the relevant accreditations to support our and customer’s sustainability criteria took time and considerable attention to detail, but it is so worthwhile, as it has delivered confidence for our customers and their end-user consumers.

Achieving ‘plastic-free’ status

“For our AquaDot range, we are pleased our paperboard has gained Flustix ‘plastic-free’ certification, as its Trustmark is the guarantee that a product is indeed plastic-free, meeting all the testing criteria laid down by the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD). The Flustix Trustmark is still relatively unknown, but the scheme’s auditor Din Certco is certainly well-known and highly trusted as a certification body.

“EcoTensil’s AquaDot products are the only utensils made from the only paperboard recognised and certified as being 100% plastic-free across Europe with the prestigious Flustix Trustmark to identify it as plastic-free. In fact, it is the world’s first paper-mill produced product to be certified under this Trustmark scheme.

“Certified as plastic-free by the reputable Din Certco institute, EcoTensil’s AquaDot paperboard is the most environmentally-qualified available today. It possesses compostability, recycling and sustainability certifications and is certified as being free of harmful fluorocarbons (PFAS).

“The legislative environment is constantly evolving and it is important to stay several steps ahead. We watch for change and ask our partners to do the same. We need to ensure that we can answer every question for our customers with robust and unambiguous answers. These often need to then be passed on to their customers, whose sustainability demands grow stronger every day. In the UK, for instance, the upcoming plastics tax is resulting in numerous companies asking: ‘is your product plastic-free and therefore exempt from the plastics tax?’. We are putting in all the necessary work to simply reply ‘yes’.

Logo overload?

“The solution for communicating messages to end-user consumers is often adding certification logos to products. Yet the problem with logos is that some are misleading and most are not yet fully understood by consumers. The recycling logo is probably the best known, while the EU’s new Sea Turtle ‘plastics in product’ logo, is still relatively new but sends a pretty clear message.

“We urge food producers and retailers to make it as easy as possible for people to find out more about their sustainability claims. Their website or social media pages are where the relevance of accreditations can be fully and properly explained. EcoTensil.eu provides our customers with all our relevant accreditations to pass on to their end-users.

“We’ve always known we have a terrific product that puts the planet first, and we have faced the challenge of ensuring we have every relevant accreditation, so it’s indisputable that EcoTensil’s products meet Europe’s high standard for sustainability,” concludes Peggy Cross. “So, in the end, we can confidently say: ‘You can trust EcoTensil’s AquaDot range is compostable, recyclable, BRC, and above all plastic-free’. That benefits our customers and their customers, and most importantly, the environment our children will inherit.”

In the United States, EcoTensil Inc has recently won a Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Leadership Award for offering innovative cutlery to consumers and food retailers looking for responsible ways to sample foods and support a circular economy. Created in 1993, FSC® is a global non-profit organization that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of forests.

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