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Rebecca Percasky and Kate Bezar of ‘The Better Packaging’: “Reuse, reuse, reuse”

Becs: In the early days in my career, I was lamenting to one my boss about how terrible I was at admin and paperwork. He told me, “Don’t worry about what you’re not good at. Focus on your skills and surround yourself with people who are great at the things you’re not”. It’s always stuck […]

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Becs: In the early days in my career, I was lamenting to one my boss about how terrible I was at admin and paperwork. He told me, “Don’t worry about what you’re not good at. Focus on your skills and surround yourself with people who are great at the things you’re not”. It’s always stuck with me as I think often we hold ourselves back because of what we can’t do rather than focusing on what we can. Kate and I are great partners because we are so aligned with our values and strategic thinking, but we have a very different and distinct skill sets (although neither of us are good at admin or paper work!). So there is always this feeling of appreciation when something gets done which is a terrific way to work.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing experienced businesswomen Kate Bezar and Rebecca Percasky. They founded The Better Packaging Co. which designs revolutionary, customised packaging solutions for the new eco-nomy — a circular economy in which generating waste is not an option and the earth’s resources are not treated as infinite. Their focus is on sustainable packaging solutions for eCommerce, the food industry and retail.

Their growing list of clients includes Marcs, David Lawrence, Karen Walker, Incu, Roxy, Buddy Franklin, WelleCo, Spell and the Gypsy Collective, RipCurl, Sendle, Quay eyewear, Tigerlily, Assembly Label, L’Oreal, Garnier, Maybelline. https://www.betterpackaging.com/


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Becs: Well there are two of us, each with our own ‘back story’ to how we came to passionately care about our environment, particularly our waste problem. Kate and I first came together, while working for tech start-up, Starshipit. It was there that we saw the extraordinary growth in eCommerce. At the time my 6-year-old was doing a school project and had chosen the topic “saving the planet” suggesting small acts such as switching of lights to reduce her impact, it moved me and that night I sat up and wrote a list of 5 things I could do to make a bigger impact than I was. “Design a more sustainable courier satchel” was one of the first things on my list.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Kate: eCommerce packaging, and the prevalence of single-use courier satchels made of traditional plastic, has not changed much in decades! In fact, over the past ten years, as eCommerce has experienced stratospheric growth, the amount of single-use plastic involved has only increased. Polystyrene balls and chips, plastic pillows, bubble wrap galore! No-one had thought to make a more sustainable option, and no-one certainly had thought to make courier satchels that would biodegrade safely in a backyard compost … until now!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Kate: In the very early days we were operating out of a small office on the 4th floor of a building with a landlord who would not have approved of us using it as a warehouse. We’d just had our second order land in New Zealand and we asked to have it delivered to the office without really thinking through how much stock it would be. It was pallet-loads and pallet-loads. Poor Becs had to get it all from the foyer to the fourth floor BY HERSELF before anyone came into the building at 9am. She literally couldn’t move off the chair for the rest of the day! Not long after that we made the decision to outsource and get a fulfilment centre to carry out receiving and shipping!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Becs: In 2019 Better Packaging was chosen to be a SheEO Venture which means that not only did we get an interest free loan from them, but also access to a worldwide community of radically generous women and to business coaching with the one-and-only MJ Ryan. She, and Vicki Saunders, SheEO’s founder, have become trusted friend and mentors. They are the first people we call when something ‘big’ happens and also there for advice when things aren’t going so swimmingly!

Kate: We are also huge fans of Ellen MacArthur and her Foundation. The work they have done to raise awareness of circular economy principles and to actually move the world closer to adopting them is phenomenal. We were a founding signatory of their New Plastics Economy Pact and have been lucky enough to have workshopped our ideas with their team.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Kate: I would say fast fashion has been extremely disruptive to the clothing industry and not in a positive way; not for the environment, not for the purchasing behaviours it encourages, and certainly not for the thousands of workers grossly underpaid to produce it. The same could be said for fast food — the amount of waste it generates and the negative impact on health.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Becs: In the early days in my career, I was lamenting to one my boss about how terrible I was at admin and paperwork. He told me, “Don’t worry about what you’re not good at. Focus on your skills and surround yourself with people who are great at the things you’re not”. It’s always stuck with me as I think often we hold ourselves back because of what we can’t do rather than focusing on what we can. Kate and I are great partners because we are so aligned with our values and strategic thinking, but we have a very different and distinct skill sets (although neither of us are good at admin or paper work!). So there is always this feeling of appreciation when something gets done which is a terrific way to work.

Becs: This quote from Albert Einstein always inspires me “We’re not going to get out of this mess using the same thinking that got us into it”. It’s perfect for where we are today and the challenges we face. We need to try and step outside and above what is happening. We need to be thinking outside of current systems and ideas of ‘how’ things should work. We need to pull systems apart and re-build them to design out waste and create a world we want to live in. A world where we are not ashamed of the impact we have had.

Kate: I remember very early on in our journey reading a quote that went something along the lines of; “Don’t discard what’s ‘better’ in pursuit of what’s perfect.” It was at a time where we’d just discovered that a material we were investigating (which was produced in an incredibly low impact way and had all these other awesome characteristics) would most likely end up in landfill because of the way waste is sorted in our country. We were so deflated that it wasn’t the ‘perfect’ solution after all, but we quickly realised that it was still a great one and certainly a whole lot better than the status quo. From that start it taught us to ‘own’ the fact that we didn’t have a silver bullet, but that we were on a journey, an iterative journey, that was about making steps in a more positive direction instead.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Kate: Reuse, reuse, reuse. That’s our mantra for what remains of 2020 and into 2021. We are all about finding ways for our existing products to be reused before being disposed of, either by the end user or (with some innovative thinking) by industry. The opportunities are huge and every time something is reused, it’s footprint is halved. We have just launched some awesome new designs (one is a courier satchel that is reusable as gift wrap and the other can be reused as a carry bag) and are currently running final trials on SWOP — our ground-breaking reusable courier satchel. SWOP stands for the Sustainable Way of Packaging and it’s truly a game-changer.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Becs — We still have to juggle most of the responsibilities of home while trying to do it all … and on top of that we don’t tend to be so good at asking for help.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Kate: I’m fascinated by brand-building and have been heavily influenced by Kevin Roberts (ex-CEO of Saatch & Saatchi) and his ‘Lovemarks’ philosophy and framework. He believes truly great brands are ‘lovemarks’ because they generate both love and respect. It just made total sense to me and encapsulated everything I intuitively knew to be true about the brands I admired and wanted to be part of creating. Mere Products (or commodities) command neither love nor respect. Fads attract love, but little respect. Brands attract respect, even lasting respect, but not love. Yet Lovemarks, command both respect and love and in turn generate ‘loyalty beyond reason’. I built my first business on these principles and was thrilled to eventually be featured in one of his books on the subject. We’ve applied them to Better Packaging this time around and would like to think we’re on the way to becoming a Lovemark too.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Kate: A Composting movement! We need to stop sending precious nutrients to landfill and nurture our soils instead, our food supply and in turn our health. At the same time, we reduce the sheer volume of waste sent to landfill and the methane that food waste generates. Every city, every suburb should have composting hubs where local cafes and restaurants can also responsibly dispose of food waste. The resulting compost could be used for community gardens and parks. It would generate jobs and have an incredible impact.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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