Unless you're Barbie, the amount of single-use plastics we have is not fantastic. And with the drive of consumer culture and mass packaging, for many, the gravity of the problem is often overlooked.
In fact, not many of us have the gumption to tackle the issue head-on, except maybe this guy — meet Jayden Klinac.
This Waiheke-based eco-champ and founder of Anew has just launched New Zealand’s first guilt-free bottle of water, a convenient and sustainable answer to single-use plastic water bottles. Plant-based, reusable, with a truly circular recycling system, these baby blue beauties are a super environmentally friendly alternative when securing your h20 on the go.
About 1 million crude oil-based plastic bottles are bought around the world every single minute, and only a small proportion, between 1-15%, are ever recycled. A big problem to say the least, but with years of research under Jayden’s belt, Anew era has begun (see what we did there)...
So, we caught up with Jayden to talk about his launch of these chic bottles, how their full-circle recycling system works, and how we too, can be more mindful of sustainable living. Get ready to be mind blown by how this sustainability sensei started it all and how he kick-started the packaging and recycling revolution into gear.
We love the look of these beautiful blue Anew bottles and their purpose to scrap the problem of single-use plastics. Where can we get one and how much does it cost?
Thanks! We think they’re pretty cool too. Our Anew bottles are available at some of New Zealand's best cafes, gyms, and yoga studios, alongside BPs nationwide and most New Worlds and Four Squares in the North Island. All our stockists want to offer hydration alternatives that move away from single-use plastic and glass bottles. We know people buy bottles of water when they’re out and about and without water, so we’ve created a much more sustainable option than a single-use plastic bottle. They are about $7.
Can you tell us how the bottles' full-circle recycling system works and how accessible it is?
Anew’s ultimate goal is to design waste out of landfill. To improve a product, each step of its lifecycle is looked at and then more sustainable outcomes are designed into that lifecycle, and that is what we did with our Anew bottles. We use plants instead of oil to make them because using oil is a problem—it’s a finite resource, while plants grow again—they’re renewable. It is also why we made our bottles dishwasher safe and reusable, so they’re never used just once.
Our bottles also have a QR code on them which, when scanned, show more than 1700 places around the country where the bottle can be refilled for free, if you ever have an empty bottle when you’re out and about. We’ve taken this extra step to encourage reuse.
So Anew bottles are reusable like a shoe is reusable, and just like shoes, all good things come to an end. If someone decides they no longer want their Anew bottle, or it's time for a new one, they can be put in home curbside recycling alongside traditional plastic. Current public recycling isn’t circular and doesn’t truly solve New Zealand’s waste problem, so we have designed the Anew circular system to help mitigate this, which we will launch in the coming months. Basically, we’ll have bins in which people can put their used bottles, or Anew packaging into at easily accessible locations around the country. We will collect the bottles so we can turn them into new Anew bottles or products and ensure they’re not downcycled, shipped offshore or sent to a landfill.
So what was your drive towards Anew? Can you tell us about your personal journey that prompted you to make this project a reality?
The initial driving factor for me came out of being frustrated at the lack of choice when it came to drinking water when you’re caught without. If I ever found myself without a drink of water and needed to buy some, my choice was to go thirsty, or nearly always to buy water in a plastic bottle made from oil. I only had the need (thirst) for a short time, and I only wanted the water, yet the packaging (which I didn’t want) will likely last forever. It didn’t make sense.
And unfortunately, this is true with most products we purchase on a daily basis. If we want to feed our pets, have coffee, have milk in our coffee, eat things or buy almost anything we need or want, it comes in some sort of packaging that is generally made out of finite resources and is used for a very small amount of time before it is thrown away, to end up as waste either in our landfills or environment, forever. Generally, we don’t even want the packaging, we just want what's on the inside.
Anew was created to revolutionise consumption through circularity. To design products and packaging that allows people to enjoy the products they want, while having the option to purchase it in packaging that isn’t made of fossil-based materials, can be reused, and has an option of being returned to avoid it ending up as waste.
We launched a bottle of water as it is the pinnacle of plastic waste, and we wanted to show what is possible when we design innovative materials and systems together in line with a circular economy.
In staying away from crude oils or fossil fuels during production, what natural materials were used to create these bottles?
We use sustainably grown plants to make the material, we also use the waste from the plant growing process and turn it into renewable energy to power the factory. We are always exploring new plants to use for materials and are currently looking at using all plant waste to make materials with.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced since Anew was founded in 2016?
I don’t like to mention it now that we seem to have moved past it, but COVID was certainly the most challenging time from a business point of view. We lost 98% of revenue overnight, couldn't safely collect bottles and had to try and keep our team employed and keep our end-of-life facilities running. The uncertainty it presented and the fact that no one had any idea how it was going to play out or experience of the situation just made it really hard.
Aside from that, as a small business, we face challenges every day. Besides the usual, we are trying to redesign and recreate an entirely new system with its unique set of problems that need solving.
Having researched sustainable materials and circulatory systems for the last 10 years, what have been the most defining turning points in your research?
There have been many. I think it really boils down to the fact that it's not what we are doing, it's how we are doing it. Humans are inherently going to consume, and this can be done in a way that is detrimental and can cause environmental, social and economic problems, or it can be redesigned so it doesn’t, or even as far as it creates positive outcomes.
Alongside this overarching view, we don't need to use fossil resources to create materials and designing products and end-to-end systems together is critical. If you look at the current life cycle of packaging, it is very disjointed; one organisation extracts the resources, another turns that into a material, another converts that into a piece of packaging, and these are all shipped around the world until a company buys that, fills it, labels it and boxes it, they may sell that direct to consumer, or to a retailer to sell for them.
Once the consumer buys the packaged product they use it and throw the packaging in one of two or three bins. You will then have a company collect that, which may be landfilled, or if recycled, it will generally go to another company to grind it up and then sell it to another company to convert it into something which is generally not what it started as and likely to be of lesser value than the original form and sold to a different company that used it originally, probably in another country to where it was collected, and which could be a different country to the one it was ground up in.
This disconnection causes leakages, and a lack of transparency and creates huge barriers to true circularity.
With the Government’s plan to ban single-use plastics by 2025 in mind, what is your advice to Kiwis and our collective journey towards more sustainable living?
Reuse is the best form of recycling we can do. The average household in New Zealand throws away 941 plastic containers every year—each. This is estimated at 1.76 billion. If we reused those containers once, that would be 880 million. Reused them six times that comes each, which comes down to 293 million. It’s still a lot, but we can see the direct impact reuse can have. If these containers were returned and turned into new containers, we may not need any new virgin materials and could keep it all in the loop. This is a simple example compared to the complexities that come with supply chains, but you can see the change that is possible.
Lastly, remember, small actions can lead to meaningful change. Every small action towards reducing your resource consumption counts towards sustainable living.
And finally, what’s next for Anew?
We are currently focusing on making our reusable bottle alternative as accessible as possible for New Zealanders and focusing on Anew’s system and rolling that out so Aotearoa has a circular end-of-life solution available.
Our bottle is an example of what is possible but we are really passionate about helping other businesses offer circular packaging for their products. We have learnt that most businesses are experts in what they put inside the packaging, but are not packaging experts. We aim to be a plug-and-play circular solution for these businesses and sit alongside them as packaging experts to help them ensure their products are packaged in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary harm and represents their brand values as much as the product inside does.