Let's Move Towards Zero Plastic Waste – Alter Eco
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Let's Move Towards Zero Plastic Waste Article
Sep 14, 2018

Let's Move Towards Zero Plastic Waste

The United States only recycles around 9 percent of its plastic trash, with many of the rest of it ending up in landfills and our waterways.

Since plastic takes hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years to degrade, we are still living with the estimated 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste that we have created since mid 20th century.[1] It harms and kills almost every marine animal with microplastics also ending up in your seafood. It is a major source of pollution for coastal areas, and a huge component of the need for large landfills and plastic processing areas that end up in developing countries.

 

This is a major issue that people are beginning to tackle around the world. Our hometown of San Francisco was the first US city to ban the use of plastic grocery bags in 2007, and that has been followed by bans from cities, states and countries around the world. This has expanded to larger bans of plastic products. One commitment includes India’s pledge to ban all single use plastic in the country by 2022. 

 

Plastic usage is also a major source of carbon emissions for the food industry through the form of packaging. These reasons are why one of our major pillars for full circle sustainability is to innovate our packaging to eliminate waste. We cannot be a company tackling social responsibility on a systematic level without addressing the use of plastics.

 

 

Our journey to eliminate waste began in 2010 when we realized the amount of plastic we used for our products and the impact that plastic was having in the world. In 2012, we relaunched our chocolate bars with FSC certified, recyclable packaging and non-toxic ink. That was followed by compostable wrappers for our chocolate truffles in 2013. We tested and tested packaging options for three more years, and finally came up with our Gone4Good compostable stand up pouch for our quinoa.

 

Both the truffle wrappers and the pouch are made from eucalyptus and birch with non-toxic ink, and the pouches have an additional layer made of non-gmo corn. This makes them compostable for all industrial compost settings, and has helped us avoid creating millions of plastic pouches and wrappers that would have ended up in landfills.

 

We are still working today on balancing the requirements of food safety and shelf life with compostable and recyclable packaging. We hope to remove all plastic packaging from our products by 2022 as we work with leaders in sustainable packaging and peers at other food companies to live beyond plastic. One group we are working with is the Climate Collaborative’s Packaging initiative with 163 other companies committed to reducing their plastic use.

 

We are hopeful for a future where we all use less plastics. You can find tips on reducing your personal waste here, and take a pledge to reduce your plastic waste.

 

 

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/

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