Meet our New Sustainable Packaging Suppliers: Flexi-Hex
Flexi-Hex are a packaging solutions company specialising in innovative, sustainable designs that are as beautiful as they are protective. To celebrate our switch to plastic-free packaging, we learn more about their history, mission and goals for the future.
Q: What does Flexi-Hex do and what’s your mission?
A: We’re on a mission to make sustainability sustainable through an innovative and thoughtfully designed packaging solution: the Flexi-Hex® sleeve. A patented honeycomb design made from paper that helps protect fragile products during shipping. It’s not only biodegradable, recyclable and plastic-free; but strong, flexible and easy to use. It’s pretty easy on the eyes, too! Ultimately, it’s a superior alternative for unsustainable bubble wrap, air-filled plastic and poorly designed packaging that creates excess waste.
Q: Could you please give us a brief history of the brand?
A: The idea for Flexi-Hex came after our Co-Founder Sam received a new surfboard wrapped in layers of plastic bubble wrap. He felt frustrated not only on the quantity of unsustainable material used but also around the lack of thought around the unpacking experience for the consumer.
For 18 months, Sam and his twin brother Will looked into how surfboards could be packaged without using plastic, and without running the risk of damaging them. The inspiration one day came from seeing how fruits were packed in those foam meshes often seeing on mangos. After a lot of research, testing and many prototypes, Flexi-Hex® was born.
It quickly became clear how adaptable the sleeves were to a wide range of industries. So, 11 months later we developed a sustainable bottle packaging solution which is now our most popular product. In April 2020, we launched a successful crowdfunding campaign which allowed us to develop our latest product, Flexi-Hex® Air – a lighter sleeve made from tissue paper ideal for protecting smaller fragile goods like cosmetics and electronics.
Today, we are a team of 14 and we have sold nearly 3 million sleeves across 22 countries which is just mind-blowing!
Q: What makes Flexi-Hex so different from other packaging solutions?
A: In a growing e-commerce market, there’s a lot of cardboard packaging that goes to waste. That gets ripped open never to be used again. That doesn’t actually protect what’s inside. That’s incongruous with the craft and care of the product people are investing in. We are proud to be the first business to design a paper honeycomb sleeve that’s as flexible as it is protective. One that’s natural, plastic-free, lightweight and thoughtfully designed with people and planet in mind. A sleeve that fits your product no matter what. And one that seamlessly fits in with the look and feel of your brand, enhancing the consumer experience.
We believe our packaging is not only beneficial for brand perception and loyalty, but also helps drive supply chain efficiencies and reduce logistics costs. The sleeves are incredibly compact and can stretch up to 35 times their natural state, making them easy to store and saving companies up to 80% in storage and shipping fees. All our cardboard solutions use minimal material and are designed to protect only the necessary parts of the product to avoid excessive waste. Having passed rigorous European drop tests, the unique structure of our honeycomb sleeves has proven to be incredibly impact resistant, reducing breakage rates to less than 1%.
Q: Why is sustainability important to you?
A: As surfers and a coastal business (we’re based in a fishing village in Cornwall), protecting the planet’s marine environment will always be at the heart of our mission. By creating a paper product that’s recyclable, biodegradable and natural, we’re removing unnecessary plastic from our seas. It’s something we see the impact of every day. Our love of the sea runs deep through our team. It’s why we take care in everything we do, from the way we run our business to the way our product is made.
Q: What sort of environmental impact has been made since launching, and what are some of your goals for the future?
A: We are carbon neutral as certified by the Planet Mark and we recently became B Corp certified having met the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. To date, with the help of our customers, we have prevented over 3,166km of plastic from the packaging industry. This is equivalent to, as the crow flies, Cornwall to Turkey!
We have goals to automate the manufacturing of the product which would allow us to produce it closer to the markets we’re selling in. We’ve also started talking to companies who make paper from raw materials such as seaweed. We believe both of these goals would improve the sustainability of our sleeves however more work on the holistic picture of this is to be completed.
At the same time as innovating our product, we’re also innovating the way we do business. That means going a step beyond sustainability and exploring how we can become regenerative instead. Less: do less harm. More: do more good. We are a long way off from this business model, however we will continue to investigate innovative paper materials, review our products specifications, improve our business model and question the way we work to ensure we are always evolving for the better. We also believe that working collaboratively with partners and keeping our eyes and ears open to the world around us will keep us inspired and accountable.
Q: What’s the ideal after-work tipple for the Flexi-Hex team?
A: We’re all big G&T fans! One of our favourite brands is Tarquin’s Gin, another Cornish business and a long-standing Flexi-Hex customer. For our last work social, we went to their gin school in St. Ives where we each got to make our own one-of-a-kind gin using Tarquin’s original process. It was great fun, if not slightly competitive!
Q: If Flexi-Hex could choose only one bottle of Bullards Gin to protect, which one would it be and why?
A: It would have to be the Coastal Gin. As fellow ocean lovers, the combination of salty and citrus flavours sounds right up our street!