POSTAL worm egg count company Westgate Labs have been championing sustainable horse health for the last 22 years. They haven’t been resting on their laurels during lockdown either, working on wins for the environment by investing in a new range of environmentally friendly packaging. April 2021 marks a year since the first of their unique compostable retail packs began returning through the post to their base in Northumberland. The innovation is just one of the steps that has contributed to a reduction in their waste to landfill of around 75% over the last three years.
The innovative design of their new lab testing kits transforms the biodegradable product pouches into a return envelope to send the animal samples to the laboratory for testing. This enables the environmentally conscious company to be responsible for the full journey of the product from start to end, as everything can be returned to source.
12 months on and thousands of pouches have now come back through the post to be composted on the family farm where the lab was founded. The intention is for the material to be used for new tree planting on a 73-acre nature reserve that the family are establishing on reclaimed open-cast land. The site, Fen Letch, combines young mixed woodland, grassland and pond areas and already provides habitat for a wide range of species, as well as contributing to important carbon sequestration.
“It was really exciting to see the first packs returned through the post in April last year,” commented Claire Shand, Director at Westgate Labs, who was instrumental in the design of the new packaging.
“We had all sorts of concerns, like would customers get the concept – would they find them hard to use and would the special compostable glue be strong enough to re-seal them for going through the post system? I don’t know if anything like this has been done before, so it was all a bit of an unknown gamble!
“The returns are keeping our chief composter, AKA our founding Director David [Booth], very busy in the bins, balancing the green and brown waste ratios to help them rot down well. It’s so satisfying to be able to deal with all this waste ourselves and use it for positive means.
“Like everything, the devil is in the detail – such as ensuring every additional sticker is printed on the right grade of material and with vegetable ink, so that no nasties leach into the soil when they go into the bins. The environment is something that’s really important to us here at Westgate, so we continue to take every step we can to protect it.”
The move has also proved popular with customers, who have been universally positive about the steps.
“It has been a while since I’ve been responsible for worming my own horse and was really impressed with the service from Westgate. The test kits have changed a lot since I last used them, I loved the fact they are trying to reduce and reuse the packaging as much as possible and the turnaround was super quick. So convenient to get the results as a text too.” Vicky Boakes
“I just received my first pack and I really love what you guys are doing. “ Megan Ellingworth
“Nice people to deal with, always very helpful and efficient service. The new biodegradable packaging is excellent. I would thoroughly recommend them.” Kerys Jordan
Four retail test kits are available in the range; horse worm egg counts, pinworm tests, avian worm counts and faecal sand tests. The lab is also well through a project to transition additional packaging from their website and merchant sales to more sustainable packaging options.
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