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When Life Gives You Surfboards

by Alayne Avila

The proverbial phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” was first coined by writer Elbert Hubbard in 1915 and has since been used as an encouraging response to difficulties big and small. It has inspired the creation of solutions in the face of challenges, like shipping a surfboard. Shipping a large, fragile item like a surfboard typically requires a large amount of plastic bubble wrap or large custom foam pieces to safely transport it to its final destination, making it difficult or near impossible to recycle. This solution just didn’t sit well with the sustainably minded Flexi-Hex team, so they got to work trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

As a team of problem solvers and product designers, the Flexi-Hex crew went to work to create an innovative way to transport their beloved surfboards with ultimate protection while focusing on sustainability. A love of our planet’s marine environment drove this team to create a solution that would keep plastic out of the oceans by creating a protective sleeve made of paper that could easily be recycled. Alas, the Flexi-Hex sleeve was born.

The Flexi-Hex sleeve is a patented, honeycomb design made of recycled paper that helps protect products, like surfboards, in transit. Renowned for its strength, the hexagonal cell structure not only provides an incredible layer of protection around fragile products but also creates an adaptable sleeve that has many applications like board sports, beverages, cosmetics, electronics, commercial, and homeware. As of September 2022, Flexi-Hex customers have removed more than 2,000km of plastic from the packaging industry by switching to this environmentally friendly solution.

With inspiration from their product’s environmentally friendly lifecycle, the team at Flexi-Hex decided to look inward to make their entire business operations more sustainable too. Through an internal analysis, they found areas of opportunity that could make a big impact if reworked with sustainability in mind.

  • Flexi-Hex sleeves ship flat and expand when opened, allowing up to 1000 sleeves to fit on a single pallet.
  • Flexi-Hex is mainly distributed by ships and lorries instead of air freight to lessen emissions.
  • They are an environmentally conscious team who are committed to reducing their personal emissions wherever possible.
  • Flexi-Hex is not only made from recycled materials, but it can also be reused up to 5 times.

Flexi-Hex is a great example of how a sustainable idea can shape an entire business and truly make a difference. Their team often reviews every aspect of their business, like their sustainability goals, to update, as new ideas are brought forward and to keep innovating. The team’s passion for protecting marine life and the environment makes them an ideal partner for companies looking for sustainable solutions that will align with their own sustainable goals.

In the face of a challenge, the Flexi-Hex team created an innovative design that is focused on proving that paper can be as strong as plastic, that quality doesn’t need to come at the expense of the environment, and that the switch to plastic-free packaging can be an easy transition. When given lemons, this team made one heck of a sustainable lemonade.

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