From February issue of NZ Manufacturer magazine.
Nada shares with us the vision of her company, Again Again, and even tells us what her favourite book is!
Nada Piatek, Founder, CEO, Again Again.
Again Again’s vision is to end single-use waste with a commercial, reusable container borrow system that makes it easy for everyone to choose reuse as their new normal.
On a daily basis I am committed to that kaupapa and excited to be making inroads to achieving it.
A societal shift like this is an enormous ask, and a slow burn. For many people in our community, even the understanding that each single-use packaging (SUP) unit is a part of a wider, enormous problem is missing.
In fact the scale of this issue is massive: 400 million tonnes of single-use packaging waste is created each year around the world.
Again Again’s key focus is to build the systems and infrastructure to facilitate brands designing out this waste and delivering food, beverages and grocery items in packaging that can be returned, washed, and used again for the same purpose.
Changing people’s behaviour is also something Again Again can and does contribute to,but is the responsibility of our whole community. With regulations such as extended producer responsibility schemes (EPRs) and plastic taxes coming into force around the world, the economics of packaging is changing. In some regions, reuse is already close to cost parity with SUP over time – when one amortises the significant set-up costs – however, there are simply very few facilities that can deliver reusable packaging at all, let alone at scale.
Legislation and consumer pressure demanding these systems is mounting and it is a solution that is increasingly coming into focus, for brands and retailers alike.
A chicken and egg scenario exists. The wash infrastructure needs investment, but this investment is not warranted until a system of management has been proven to assure the return of the containers — or financially compensate the owners for these.
This, in turn, makes it hard to stand up and test such a system when the wash infrastructure is lacking. Again Again now has a resolved system of such management, and we have the system in the market with 200 vendors across New Zealand.
As proof of the system solidifies, funding for the wash infrastructure appears to be more forthcoming than it was 5 years ago when we began.
There is extraordinary innovation occurring throughout the packaging industry. All moves towards a circular economy must be celebrated, and those that rely on principles that sit higher on the waste hierarchy (reduce/reuse) are orders of magnitude more valuable than those that rely on recycling. Reusable packaging is much harder to set up than making changes to the materials of single-use packaging.
It requires total workflow changes throughout the value chain, and we acknowledge the resistance to it for this reason. However, it is so much more impactful, as supported by the majority of published life-cycle analyses.
The notable exclusions are those commissioned by and funded by the single-use packaging industry whose revenues are at risk by change. (Reference).
The opportunity for change is twofold. Beyond the obvious planetary benefits, the financial opportunity is glaring. Globally, the food and beverage packaging industry is valued at 486 billion.
With forecasts for reusable packaging disruption ranging from 5% (Conservatively, from McKinsey) to 30% (Aggressively, from Zero Waste Europe), there is a new market opening, currently with no obvious major players.
Companies such as Again Again, which are based in the more progressively regulated countries in Europe, are receiving significant Series A funding to accelerate their growth.
Here in New Zealand, Again Again is in the development phase, funded primarily through government and industry grants. We expect to raise capital again in the latter half of 2024.
SBN is a network of visionary professionals who are all using business as the vehicle for change for good. It can be pretty isolated being the lone nut starting a movement (watch Derek Sivers’ TED talk) and the SBN crowd are great at validating our leadership.
They are our tribe! They are also a great communication channel. I am grateful to have their support.
My favourite book is The Magus by John Fowles. It’s madness, tied up with the balmyness of a summer break. Total escapism.
I’m most inspired by my Dad. It’s easy to look to fame and more public successes for inspiration, and there is plenty to be found. But inspiration without action is a daydream. Dad taught me how to make things happen.