Sandalwood is not just scarce and beautiful as a wood; its intrinsic value lies in its various functional properties which makes it ideal for skin and aroma-based applications.
As part of the Quintis group, with the largest Indian sandalwood plantation comprising well over 12,000 hectares, it is only right to adopt both leading principles and practices that set a high standard for the rest of the industry. Naturally, The Sandalwood Shop has made environmental awareness part of its ethos within the different facets of the business.
A pledge has been made to convert our consumer product packaging usage to recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) within the next 12 months. Widely used for packaging and more, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a lightweight plastic commonly used for bottled water, it is also the most recycled plastic worldwide.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment- 84% of plastic used is sent to landfill and only 13 percent is recycled1. Further, the National Plastics Plan 2021 states that by 2050, it is estimated that plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish!2
So, when the often single-use PET plastic gets recycled for use again, it essentially lessens the pressure for landfill and becomes what’s known as rPET. This means that rPET packaging has a much lower carbon footprint than a standard virgin PET bottle.
Both the bottle and cap can be recycled, so its recyclability itself represents a viable, working alternative to single-use plastic. Soon down the track you may notice coloured spots on our rPET packaging, this is due to the nature of its recycled plastic status, as remnant particles cannot always be filtered 100 percent of the time. This does not at all alter the quality of the product, but merely represents our commitment to reducing our impact on mother nature.
You may have already noticed instore, that we’ve significantly reduced cellophane use and the practice of wrapping products in plastic or unnecessary packaging. Instead, bundled products are being tied with biodegradable twine. Plastic tamper proofing for products such as our lipsticks are being replaced with paper tamper proofing. Even instore, paper posters are not laminated, mass indiscriminate printing reduced, with instore advertising limited to using picture frames to display marketing offers. Our gift hampers too have a makeover underway, with plastic soon to be scrapped in place of 100 percent plant based sustainable packaging, using process residues from agricultural tree waste. Again, post-consumer recycled packaging is the key element here, so watch this space!
Even in the café, plastic cutlery is long gone and replaced with a biodegradable bamboo option. Plastic straws and takeaway packaging have been switched to paper and cardboard where possible. Takeaway cups are now a compostable variety with staff encouraged to bring their own ‘keep cups’. In the kitchen, all cardboard is recycled, with cans and bottles recycled locally through Green Skills’ new ‘containers for cash’ program.
In terms of our distillery process, steam generated by our biomass boiler, is 60% more cost effective than electricity, and a more sustainable option. We’ve also recently upgraded from a more cumbersome batch distillation approach to one that is continuous- a patented method that’s resulting in a 75 percent reduction in use of water and energy over a 24-hour period. A more streamlined production approach still powered by woodchips. A waste product sourced from local blue gum and pine plantations. A sustainable, renewable, and locally available fuel source that further reduce our overall carbon footprint. Additionally, wastewater from the distillation process is treated onsite and since 2010 we’ve recycled more than 56 million litres of water! Even our spent sandalwood charge, a by-product of oil distillation, is used and processed into natural mosquito coils to keep the mosquitos at bay. In nature, nothing is wasted for it has what can be termed as bio-contributive value, while in business nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Tanya Robbins, our Retail and Tourism Manager reaffirms this commitment to sustainability reaching far beyond our environment as it reflects “…the responsibility we have to our communities, our environment, and our people”.
It’s not enough that our sandalwood is tagged at harvest to ensure traceability, while every batch of logs is sample tested for quality and oil content. The Sandalwood Shop believes that quality, ethically grown and sourced Indian and Australian sandalwood trees form just one aspect of the whole ecological equation. For key business decisions need to have a wide berth in its regenerative focus towards achieving the best nature-based solution.
However, to be a truly successful champion in the sustainability sphere, businesses must create the right conditions for stakeholder uptake. It is also certainly true to state that people are much more likely to make desired changes when those behaviours are associated with positive emotions.
So, with the current chaotic climate not likely to cease in the short-term, supporting staff as real people rather than mere resource will allow genuine cohesive connections to be developed. Just like rewiring the brain, creating new neural pathways through consistent behaviours and beliefs over a sustained period.
In a sense sustainability is every employee’s responsibility. Not necessarily a sort of psychological ownership towards an object or idea, but by creating a framework conducive for the sustainability mindset to flourish.
Stakeholder engagement is more than lip service as true commitment to sustainability entails embracing the idea of ownership by truly listening and allowing each stakeholder to contribute in their unique way. For this to happen, a certain level of trust, just like any real relationship needs to be authentically nurtured to stand the test of time.
Looking outside the box for allowing people to take ownership of sustainability will surely make all the difference, as engaged people are at the core of becoming a true sustainability patriot for a better future.
1 National Waste Report (2020) page 4: National Waste Report 2020 - DAWE
2 Ellen McCarthur Foundation, “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking The Future Of Plastics and Catalysing Action” (2017) page 10: The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics & catalysing action (ellenmacarthurfoundation.org)