“We’re not here to take on big plastic.We’re here to keep making better decisions and to partner with people up for doing the same.”
What do a group of designers with a love of the sea and surfing have in common? The answer is a concern to design packaging that does not persist in the environment and negatively impact the ocean as is already happening around the globe. Born out of this love for the sea, Flexi-Hex Ltd was founded in Cornwall by twin brothers Sam and Will Boex in January 2018. Already a certified B Corp it produces an innovative, patented paper-based protective packaging material that uses recycled paper, is biodegradable and is designed to replace single use plastic packaging in a market that is worth some $760 billion. Originally designed to provide a protective sleeve for transporting their surf boards without using plastic and damaging the planet, the product has expanded rapidly into other markets, such as bottle packaging in the food and drinks industry, the 120 billion unit global cosmetics industry, and the electronics industry. With the original heavy duty sleeve and a more lightweight version made from tissue paper, the product is suitable for both domestic and commercial use and is distributed in 19 countries with 158% year on year growth.
Apart from profitability, the goal of Flexi-Hex is to “lead a new generation of sustainability within the global packaging industry and raise awareness of the environmental threats currently facing our world”. To do this, they are creating efficient and innovative packaging solutions that help reduce the amount of packaging waste that ends up in our ecosystem. In the financial year 20-21 it was calculated that they saved 150 tons of plastic waste from landfill, the weight of one adult blue whale. As a consequence, In December 2021 they were the Overall Winner and winner of the Circular Economy Award at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards and the winner of the Most Sustainable Business Award at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.
The business is not just concerned about the ocean and the environment but also its people, both its employees and its customers. It believes in transparency and has produced the Flexi-Hex “Scrapbook”, an ever-changing document that is part manifesto and part employee handbook that holds the firm accountable. This outlines a new form of working where employees are encouraged to maintain a healthy work-life balance and are permitted an hour off work each day to focus on their hobbies or personal administration. Additionally, the firm has a hybrid working policy that permits employees to work from home for two days each week and gives them one day off work each year to celebrate their birthday. As they say, “Our policy has always allowed employees to work flexible hours, as long as the work gets done with no negative impacts on others”. They recognise that life is not easy and have created a supportive team culture within the business in which the credit is shared when things go well and the founders shoulder the responsibility when they do not. As they recognise the importance of their employees so they recognise the value of their customers, believing that every single one is important. Typical customer endorsements are:
“Breakages are unheard of and our customers are happy in the knowledge that their rum will arrive safely in environmentally friendly packaging that does not cost the earth” (Hattiers Devon Rum)
“Our customers love that they can keep and reuse the sleeves, and they’ve commented on how luxurious the unboxing experience feels” (Kri Vegan Skincare).
Despite the obvious success of their products, Flexi-Hex is continuously innovating and their objective is to go beyond sustainability and become more regenerative instead. Their products are not just biodegradable, recyclable and plastic free but strong, flexible, attractive and easy to use. Clearly with their concern for profitability, the environment and people they are very much a Harmonious Enterprise, one that addresses SDGs 14 (Life below water) and 15 (Life on Land) as well as 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure). It is also concerned to create decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) and to create Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).
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