Happy Plastic-Free July!
In the spirit of Plastic-Free July, I wanted to share about our commitment to finding the most sustainable packaging for our products. As an ocean-friendly brand, simply opting for single-use, petroleum-based plastic. However, this certainly hasn’t been the easy path – finding and implementing sustainable packaging has presented its fair share of challenges. We currently use bio-based ASTM D6400 compostable materials in our packaging. The post below goes into more detail about why sustainable packaging is important to us, the benefits and challenges of compostable packaging, and what we hope to achieve in the future with our packaging.
WHY SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING IS IMPORTANT TO US
Every year, roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean, causing the well-documented problems of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, microplastics throughout the marine ecosystem, and threatening biodiversity.
Snack packaging is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to ocean pollution. Nearly all of today’s snacks come in traditional single-use plastic (90+% by our assessment of supermarket shelves in the Bay Area). Shown at the right, the ocean conservancy ranks plastic food packaging as the #3 most prevalent form of ocean trash collected.
As an ocean-positive company, contributing to this problem through our own packaging was a counter to our mission. So, we made an early commitment to find and implement the most sustainable alternatives to traditional single-use, petroleum-based plastics.
THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING
Our current packaging is made of ASTM D6400 materials. This means that the bag will decompose completely into compost within 6 months when placed into an industrial composting system. When placed in a home compost bin, the decomposition time will vary based on the temperature, oxygen levels and nutrient composition of the compost pile. In order to be certified compostable, the resulting compost must meet a certain specification for healthy soil that can be used in agricultural, bioremediation, and other applications.
While we believe that compostable materials are the most sustainable option for our snacks currently available, this is still not a perfect option and there are many challenges associated with this (outlined below).
OUR GOALS FOR SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
While we have taken a first step on our sustainable packaging journey with our compostable materials, we are committed to continually improving the sustainability of our packaging. A few initiatives that we are working on are below:
1. Ensuring more of our products get composted: In some cases, our packaging will be pulled out of industrial composting facilities either because i) that facility does not accept compostable packaging materials, or ii) our packaging looks too much like traditional, non-compostable plastic. We are hoping to work with composting networks around the US to implement the correct labeling and perform the appropriate testing to ensure our products are composted appropriately. We have thought about implementing a pouch collection program to collect pouches from areas that don’t have a suitable composting facility, however the carbon impact of the shipping would likely offset the benefits of the composting.
2. Improve the sustainable of our materials other than our pouch: Outside of our pouch, we are hoping to maximize the sustainability of all of our other packaging materials, including our ecommerce boxes (by using post-recycled material, kraft tape, and more sustainable inks), our desiccant pack inside of our pouches, and our stickers/apparel/etc. Each of these improvements represents a challenge and we have limited resources on our small team, but we are continually making progress.
3. Providing resources and helping facilitate conversations around packaging for small brands: We have found that many small brands are interesting in transitioning to compostable or other sustainable packaging materials. However, there is not a good resource of information about the options for sustainable packaging, and information about the potential costs & challenges of sustainable packaging. In the future, we hope to play a role in facilitating the discussion around sustainable packaging for small brands and provide resources that help small brands make a transition to sustainable packaging.