We chat to founder Saxon Wright to hear more about Pablo & Rusty’s organic waste collection, eco-friendly packaging, what it means to be a B Corp and the importance of sustainability-focused business practices.
The Pablo & Rusty story starts with a gesture to your brothers-in-law. How did it go from a gesture to launching a business?
We just did a blend for their birthdays one year and got some labels made up. After sending the blend down to them and sharing with their friends, we started to get some small orders, that then became larger orders!
However, things really kicked into gear when I asked if I could use their name to start our first cafe. It all just starting rolling from there and before long we had set up our roastery and started supplying cafes.
Sustainable practices are at the heart of everything you do, from the bio-generator at your Sydney CBD establishment to the solar power at your factory, and of course, compostable cups. Can you tell us a little more about what sustainable practices you have in place?
We focus heavily on reducing waste, so that means recycling or reusing everything we can. We separate and compact all our recyclable waste and have a dedicated organics collection.
However, we also look at energy and water and conserve as much as possible. We have a 30kw smart solar system at the factory and even supply our neighbours. We use power saving equipment and installed all LED lighting, including our factory high bays.
Our other focus is on packaging, and ensuring we are working with companies trying to reduce their footprint, source sustainable materials and, again, recyclable or compostable where possible.
It’s not always easy being green, we’re there any challenges Pablo & Rusty had to overcome in the quest to become a BCorp certified business?
Well, B Corp is not just about being green. It takes into account all stakeholders and looks at broader issues around staffing, customers and ownership. So, for us, meeting some of the transparency and governance requirements took a bit of work, as did meeting certain industry standards around reporting and measuring impact. However, we found these to be really beneficial despite the time and effort to get them done.
Aside from being a huge benefit to the environment, how has implementing eco-friendly practices benefited your business?
It’s a myth that being eco-friendly costs you more. As with any business upgrade, there is usually an initial investment and cost. However, it’s payback is often just as good as other business investments. Plus the goodwill for customers, staff and just the net environmental benefit ensure that it's just a great decision all around.
You recently received B Corp certification - what was the public reaction to this? Do you think the general public is aware of the significance and appreciate what it means?
B Corp recognition and influence is still small, however, it is definitely growing. We are slowly rolling out communication around it and I think in time will be an essential mark for consumers looking to participate in the sustainable economy.
You’ve created your own cups from the husks of coffee beans – and they look incredible – can you tell us how this innovative idea came about?
The idea originated in the concept of removing waste from the production of coffee at a farm level. The idea merged with a separate project in reviewing our ceramic range and what we could do on that front. The final product, however, is one that tackles the waste at a cafe level as well, in what is essentially a hybrid product covering the territory of reusable mugs to dine in ceramic replacements.
HuskeeCups align with the principles of a circular economy – something we’re passionate about – what advice do you have for other businesses who want to align with these principles?
I think all business can and should be sustainable – there is no excuse as there are enough suppliers and innovators that make it possible. It’s so important to seek out these suppliers and partner with them. If you see a problem, however big or small, take your own initiative to be part of the solution.
You’ve recently partnered with us in order to provide your cafe customers with an eco-friendly (recyclable and compostable) paper cup option, for those times when it’s simply not feasible to avoid single-use packaging. Can you tell us what made you choose BioPak?
We went through a lengthy process to find the best partner for us and it wasn’t a decision we took lightly (just ask Gary!!!). We needed someone that aligned with all our objectives, including sustainability, business efficiency and of course people we just like working with! BioPack came out on top.
We’ve recently launched a composting service to ensure our BioCups are composted, providing nutrients back to the earth as part of their ‘end of life’ phase, how do you feel about this initiative?
Love, love, love! This is so important. We are passionate about conserving resources, renewing the earth and ensuring we take care of our planet. It is exactly why we have chosen to work with a company like BioPak.
What advice do you have for people with ideas and entrepreneurs with vision, who are thinking about starting up a business with a sustainability focus?
Any new business has its risks, so surround yourself with the best people, ensure you have enough capital to get to market and be prepared to iterate until your idea meets the demands of the market.
A great idea will only fly if people are willing to use it or buy it. Make sure people love the product or service and that you are solving a real problem.
Lastly, go for it. We need people to push the boundaries and for business to become more sustainable, so don’t give up!!![Photo: Saxon Wright, Founder of Pablo & Rusty's]