Traditional wound care contributes directly to landfills, but band-aids can actually be sustainable! The Australian-owned and operated Patch Adhesive Strips is a zero-waste band-aid that offers a natural approach to wound care.
Did you know that 1 in 4 people react to common wound adhesives? Patch’s eco-friendly bandages are not only natural, but also hypoallergenic! Patch addresses the needs of people who are allergic to common wound adhesives or have sensitive skin, as well as the needs of the planet: sustainability.
Even though Patch and Nutricare (Patch’s parent company) are far from perfect, they are still a significantly more sustainable and safer alternative to standard popular bandaid brands that put zero effort into sustainability and use materials that can irritate the skin. So, let’s hold Patch and Nutricare accountable to do even better, particularly in terms of social practices, because the brand has great potential to have a positive impact on the people and the planet with its innovative zero-waste product.
Patch adhesive strips are made of 100% organic bamboo fiber. Organic bamboo fiber contains a range of compounds that provide antioxidant, skin-soothing, and astringent properties and relief. Bamboo fiber is actually one of the fastest-growing, renewable resources on the planet. The bamboo crop requires very little water and doesn’t need to be sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Additionally, bamboo releases 35% more oxygen into the air compared to trees of the same size. Overall, Patch’s bamboo fiber material is a great sustainable choice for adhesive strips that are natural and hypoallergenic! It’s also great that Patch strips are 100% vegan, and without any animal derivatives. Patch offers a variety of adhesive strips that contain natural ingredients, in addition to bamboo fiber, such as coconut oil, aloe vera, and activated charcoal.
This product, Patch Aloe Vera Bamboo Bandages, is made with natural bamboo fiber and Aloe Vera infused gauze with hypoallergenic Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA). Aloe Vera contains two powerful natural compounds (Polysaccharides and Glycoproteins) that assist with wound healing, and it’s great for soothing burns and blisters. Patch’s PSA formulation is made from a combination of natural minerals and Nano technology to gently adhere to the skin without causing reactions.
Originally, the outer cover of the Patch bandage was a biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastics can be broken down by living things, like fungi or bacteria. It can take any time between months and several years to break down depending on the conditions it is exposed to. If you’re curious about how Patch breaks down compared to plastic bandages and other fabric bandages, you can check out its time-lapse video, which shows the breakdown of Patch’s biodegradable bandage compared to other bandages over time. In 2019, though, the biodegradable plastic on the strip covering was replaced with paper. The paper-backed Patch bandages are now in circulation, which makes Patch 100% compostable, meaning everything can go into the compost bin. Overall, the product, including all the packaging, is 100% compostable, hypoallergenic, and produces zero waste.
As of August 2020, Patch is stocked in over 40 countries and 35,000 stores globally. Unfortunately, Patch provides no information on their supply chain, manufacturing processes, or ingredient sourcing. It is said that the bamboo fiber is organic, however, there is no information on whether or not it is sustainably sourced. There is also no information about the extraction of Aloe Vera. Furthermore, it’s indicated that Patch adhesive strips are 100% vegan and are not tested on animals.
When it comes to social practices, the brand gives no insight into their labor practices or working conditions. The only information about Patch’s social practices is shared on the Ethos page on Nutricare’s (Patch’s parent company) website. In their “social initiatives” section, where there is a picture of African-American children, Nutricare claims that they are “active supporters of communities who struggle to get access to wound care or are adversely affected by natural disasters.” However, there is no explanation on how they offer support or how Nutricare gives back to the community. The section followed by “social initiatives” is the "our footprint" section, where Nutricare explains that global travel is often necessary because they are a small but global business. Therefore, to offset this and their general emissions, they "plant trees and support organizations such as Trees For The Future so that other communities can grow." They plant a tree for every purchase through their website, for every new retail store that stocks them worldwide, and to offset their corporate miles traveled. In my opinion, planting trees and sharing that information on their website, while they share no information on labor practices, is unacceptable. I acknowledge that it’s great that the brand plants trees and that the product is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and zero-waste, but a product can never be considered sustainable if the company doesn’t give any information on sourcing, manufacturing, or labor practices.
Patch is made by Nutricare, its parent company. Nutricare is an Australian-owned and operated company that manufactures massively scalable natural and organic Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Nutricare creates natural and organic products for consumer health care with the philosophy of caring for its customers and our world. FMCG are nondurable products that sell quickly at a relatively low cost. It should be noted that the FMCG sector is responsible for over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fast-Moving Consumer Goods’ sustainability is a major issue, particularly in terms of supply chain transparency and energy efficiency of distribution. Patch is very successful in terms of offering sustainable packaging and using plant-based alternatives. However, when it comes to energy efficiency, there is no information available about the company’s product distribution across the world.
Patch is awarded as one of the world's top 10% B-Corp companies worldwide, with an overall B Impact score of 103.5. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Patch is also among B-Corp’s Best For The World: Environment 2019 list that honors companies for taking bold action to preserve our most precious resources. For instance, in terms of giving back to the planet to reduce carbon footprints, Patch has been donating to Trees for the Future since October 2020. They plant a tree for every purchase through them online, for every new retail store that stocks them worldwide, and to offset their corporate miles traveled.
Last but not least, Patch’s parent company Nutricare doesn’t have any other product line than Patch, but it seems like Nutricare has future plans in producing eco-friendly health care products under different label/brand names. After identifying a gap in the market for a sustainable option for adhesive strips, Nutricare’s founder James Dutton has launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop Strap, which is similar to Patch. Strap aims to become the world’s first 100% compostable sports tape produced from bamboo fiber. It seems like Nutricare is experimenting with sustainable bamboo fiber material to provide health care solutions.
Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics
Nutricare B-Corp Certification
Patch Biodegradation Timelapse Video
Strap Tape Kickstarter