Lynx Golf boycotts plastic packaging
“The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
It will soon be a year since David Attenborough made us take a long hard look at ourselves during the shocking final episode of Blue Planet 2.
Focusing on how plastic pollution is damaging our seas and the creatures that live in it, it was a harrowing hour of disturbing footage. The heartbreaking image of the mother whale carrying her dead calf, poisoned after her milk became contaminated from all the plastic floating in the ocean, will stay embedded in our minds for years.
Then only a few months ago, Instagram and Twitter went into melt down at the release of a horrific video of a diver swimming through a sea of plastic waste near Bali. If we needed any more proof that things had to change then this was it.
While it prompted many of us to vow never to use a plastic bag or straw again, numerous companies and businesses have also made changes.
The BBC have promised to ban single-use plastics (SUPs), such as plastic straws and cups, across all their sites by 2010, but British company Lynx Golf are beating them to it.
Lynx have set themselves the deadline of making all their packaging SUP free by August. They are the first golf equipment company in the world to ban these harmful plastics.
However, it has been a complicated process and the company have already spent £30,000 on alternatives to SUPs and recycling resources.
Lynx CFO Stephanie Zinser explained to me why the expense is more than worth it…
Why did you decide to go SUP free?
Among our staff, we have over 42 children and a few grandchildren. We want them to have a world in which they can live safely, healthily and happily.
We were sat on this lovely beach on holiday and I just thought that it’s ok for the media to target individuals saying don’t use plastic straws, disposable coffee cups or plastic bottles, but what about all the stuff that comes over from our factories that’s all wrapped in plastic?
So I came back from holiday and spoke to our team and asked them if they thought it was something we should do. I thought they would think I was mad but actually they were super keen. Then we just started working on how we could get rid of these plastics and what we could replace them with.
Are you hoping that others will follow your example?
We are the first golf company to go entirely plastic free in terms of what we are sending to our customers, and that is quite a huge move.
We just hope that it encourages other people to do the same. We think the cost has been worth it. It’s no good making a profit if there’s nobody left to buy your products.
I suspect that eventually everyone will have to do it whether they want to or not. But I’d rather lead and do it because it’s the right thing to do not because we have been forced to.
Have people been enthusiastic about your decision?
All of our kids have been jumping up and down in excitement about this. It’s their future and so I think the younger generations really get it. They are the ones who will be bringing their children up in it. Where as older people might not feel too worried about things that hurt people in 50 years time.
I hope people recognise that we are not just about producing good stuff, and that we do also have a corporate conscience. We like to be innovative, but it doesn’t just stretch to the clubs, it’s in everything we do.
We are really excited and really pleased. We think we have thought it through well.
Do you think your customers will appreciate the move?
I think so. While it’s nice to open a new club and see it all clean and wrapped up in a plastic bag, you’re just giving your customer the problem of getting rid of that plastic packaging.
The customer’s only resource is to use their council recycling, and there are all these stories about how half the things you give to your council to recycle end up in landfill anyway. We are taking that problem away from people and trying to replace the plastic with things like paper and cardboard that are easier to recycle.
We have our own storage bins and bailers for plastic, so we’ve told our staff that anyone who lives locally can bring their plastic to us. We are trying to make it as inclusive as possible.
Did you look at using alternative types of plastic?
People might assume that biodegradable plastics are a great alternative that are better for the environment, but in actual fact they aren’t.
In order to degrade they need heat, light and oxygen all at the same time – which they simply do not get when buried deep in landfill.
If they do actually breakdown then they release a load of other chemicals into the soil that are toxic. So we decided these weren’t an option.
The only truly biodegradable plastic alternatives are bioplastics which are made entirely from plant-based materials, but they are still in their infancy in terms of style and design. You could put them on top of golf club heads but the problem is that it doesn’t look that great yet.
So we thought rather than go with something cosmetically unpleasing, or biodegradable plastics, which are just a con, we would work around it and not substitute one problem for another.
If we are going to do it, we want to do it right.
Are you also trying to help revive the bee population?
To try and encourage people to come along on the journey with us, we have found a company to produce bee-friendly plant seeds for us.
So we are not just getting rid of a negative but also adding a positive. When we send out a piece of equipment to a customer, it will also contain a packet of seeds in there for them to plant. Golfers are quite outdoorsy people, so we think they will appreciate this.
Habitat loss is a big issue for bees. There are a lot of scary statistics around, like that the human population would starve within four years if bees were extinct. It’s certainly a fact that they pollinate 70% of the crops we rely on.
Almonds rely entirely on bees for pollination.These nuts are used as milk substitutes and very widely utilised; they’re not just a luxury product. The shells are used in feed for cows, so there would be a lot of issues if we didn’t have the right number of bees.
Giving people seeds to plant in your garden or local field is just encouraging everyone to do their bit to grow their habitat.
The banned plastics
- Polyethylene (PE) plastic, used to wrap and protect its golf bags before they are packed in boxes, is being abandoned altogether or being replaced with paper. Longer-term, the company is investing in reusable and useful cotton drawstring bag covers on their golf bags.
- PE bubble plastic – used to pad out golf bag pockets so they keep their shape on display as well as bubble wrap packaging to protect shipping – is also being replaced with recycled paper wadding.
- Plastic parcel tape – used on cartons and boxes when importing equipment to the UK, then distributing it to retailers – is being phased out in favour of reinforced gummed paper tape.
- Plastic shrink wrapping, currently used on every golf club head component, will be removed altogether.