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Foam recycling, trees and our journey to carbon neutral - Shadow Foam

Foam recycling, trees and our journey to carbon neutral

In any business, being carbon neutral means that the company has taken steps to minimise its carbon footprint.  It's about effectively balancing the amount of carbon emissions an organisation produces, with an equivalent amount of emissions being offset elsewhere. Achieving this most often involves a combination of processes. Things like implementing sustainable practices, using renewable energy sources, and supporting carbon offset projects. And this is the journey that we here at Shadow Foam have found ourselves on over the past few years. Culminating recently in some big and exciting new developments. foam recycling 

Our ethos

The Shadow Foam ethos already intrinsically aligns perfectly with this mission, and always has. The overall aim of our product and therefore our business, is to prolong the lifespan of our stuff. To increase the lifespan of people's tools, collectables and precious items. Prevent loss of valuable kit and equally stop things becoming damaged and prematurely ending up in landfill.  In and of itself, therefore, Shadow Foam is inherently a tool to more sustainable living for many. 

We can't, however, get away from the fact that the material itself is manufactured from a form of plastic. Albeit, in our case, a multi-use plastic which is already manufactured using recycled material. This is intentional though, since creating a durable material ensures the strength and longevity of the product. Plus, it means it's robust enough to hold up to the rigors of daily use rather than becoming yet another throwaway item. So, therein lies part of the reason we undertook this journey.  foam recycling 

Sustainable practises to become carbon neutral

First, the big changes

Back in 2021 we discontinued our original Shadow Foam product on the basis that it wasn't a sustainable product. Not least as it was made from Polyurethane which isn't recyclable. Making that material from petroleum based products is energy intensive. Plus it exacerbates the climate crisis by causing additional, unnecessary environmental pollution. Therefore we took the tough decision to remove it from the market. We also felt it to be our responsibility that the products we supply have the longest possible lifecycle, hence the introduction of the Polyethylene material you now know as Shadow Foam, at that time. This newer product, as well as being much easier to work with, was a lot more durable and offered a much longer lifespan than the original product.

Foam recycling

As we mentioned earlier, the Shadow Foam you now know and love is also made partly from recycled materials. Plus, as Polyethylene is widely recycled, that means less waste going into landfill. Better yet, in our own production processes, any excess material is now repurposed into other uses. It’s a win-win for both our users and for our planet. We'll soon be adding new products to our web store which are made from our re-cycled off-cuts. So watch this space!

Small changes make a difference

On top of this, over time, we've been making lots more small changes to help us reach our overall aim of becoming carbon neutral.  foam recycling 

We're proud to have never used plastic packaging, using card and paper options instead. To align our processes with our aims, we even replaced our bubble-wrapped packaging with options that are sustainable. Traditional plastic tape has now been all but phased out, and replaced wherever practicable with paper tape.  As have the traditional document wallets used for shipping, where un-recyclable material has often previously played it's part. 

We constantly invest in new technology to keep our manufacturing processes as lean as possible, minimising waste both in terms of material and operation time.  

We are great proponents for shopping local too. Not only does this support our region's commercial landscape, but minimises time and emissions of components in transit. It's not always possible, but using local products and services is an important element of our work.  foam recycling 

Importantly for an online retailer too, we try to select couriers and shipping options with the right green credentials to align with our own ethos. Wherever possible we now use services with minimal requirement for printed documents and who offer clean, green delivery solutions.  

Renewable energy sources

Our business operates out of two sites in semi-rural Cheshire. Our team is kept as small as is practical by implementing lean workplace systems and practises. This means we operate efficiently delivering maximum output with as few people as possible. Notwithstanding that, we're conscious that there are a lot of processes involved with the manufacture of our product. 

So to support this, the manufacturing units we work from are both run on renewable energy tariffs. Of course, tariffs like these are often charged at a premium versus other less green options. However, we feel it's the right move for our business given our sustainability aims. 
Our energy partners have been carefully selected to be great enablers of a sustainable system. So we have full visibility on the positive impact that they, through customers like us, are making.
foam recycling 
All our team here share these common aims, and we're a collective who like to live our values. Some team members drive EV's while most live very locally which therefore allows for on-foot commuting too. We also support the on-site charging of EV's for staff and visitors. 

Supporting carbon offset projects

We've recently begun working with the incredible Switch2Zero who help business transition to net zero. They fund a variety of third party verified carbon offsetting projects, while also directly combating plastic pollution and investing in future carbon capture through the planting of trees. 

Through this, and in conjunction with their partners Eden Reforestation Projects, we've already planted 10,000 trees. The trees we've planted so far have been split across 3 different plantation projects. So far we've supported reforestation in Senegal, Mali and Uganda. We will have footage of some of that planting coming very soon, and we can't wait to share that with you.  

Eden Reforestation are a non-profit NGO that work in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation. They work directly with the local communities experiencing extreme poverty. Often this is a direct result of the deforestation and destruction of the land that previously sustained them. Eden them employs thousands of local community members and provides them with the education and tools necessary to plant, grow, and protect to maturity, millions of trees each year.

Eden currently plant around 15 million trees a month, so we know our 10,000 trees so far is a figurative drop in the ocean. But with one tree planted for every single order we ship, that number is increasing massively every single day. We are very proud to see the impact that we, through our valued customers, are having in these areas.  foam recycling 

Our aim

In practical terms, our overall aim is to mitigate our overall environmental impact.  Of course, we want to contribute to both the national and global effort to combat climate change and be a responsible organisation. However, this is not just to align with the growing trend towards sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the business world, it's because we really do want to make a difference. And so we'd like to thank you all for the part you're playing in our journey.

As such we'd like to ask if you could also play your part in this too. Please consider if you can make use of offcuts or waste material for other projects, or share with others who could use some Shadow Foam in their lives. If you're one of our valued repeat customers, please bundle deliveries into as few orders as possible. Additionally, please recycle the packaging that your orders arrive in. 

Polyethylene, whilst widely recyclable, is largely unidentifiable in the form of material off-cuts. The majority of local authorities in the UK offer kerbside recycling for PE plastics which are identifiable and stamped, but technical, economical and logistical factors make it slightly more challenging for them to manage. So for that reason you may need to explore recycling your waste material as part of a visit to your local household waste recycling centre. Government policy surrounding these issues is being revised all the time. So as things change we will work to update our guidance accordingly, to ensure as much waste as possible can be processed in accordance with our sustainability aims.

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