3 Comments

  1. Emily P.

    Thanks for the links!

    Here in Portland, the supermarkets will be charging customers 5 cents per paper bag, starting on January 1st, and plastic bags will no longer be offered at the cash register. This is a step in the right direction.

  2. sergneri

    I wrote to Califia farms complaining about the plastic bottles they ship their almond milk and received a reply:
    Dec 31, 10:17 AM PST
    Hi,

    Thanks for contacting Califia! At the moment we do not have a program for consumers to send back our bottles/cartons. How our packaging contributes to the global waste and plastic crisis is one of our top concerns. Guiding people to make better, plant-based food choices is our first priority but packaging choices involve considerable tradeoffs. Paperboard based cartons do have a slightly lower carbon footprint than plastic and made mostly of paper from FSC certified responsibly managed forests though they also include thin layers of plastic and aluminum that makes them more difficult to recycle than pure plastic products. 60% of US households have access to carton recycling while 94% have access to PET (plastic #1).

    We also use glass for a small selection of our cold brews. Glass is a very recyclable material but inefficient to ship due to its weight and fragility. Putting our Plantmilks in glass would put them in a price range that most people could not afford.

    China Situation

    In 2018 China implemented strict contamination rules for imported recyclable materials that effectively stopped all shipments there. The impact to US recycling programs varies by location and while other countries are beginning to pick up the imports that China has cut, some communities are facing tough decisions about the future of their programs. The shift is also forcing recyclers in the US to figure out how to improve the quality of their recycled materials. In the short term, the result is less material being recycled but long term it will hopefully spur investment in systems that yield higher quality (and less polluting) recyclable materials. Chinese recyclers have already announced some new investments in US plants. Displaced Chinese processors have already announced plans to open new facilities in the US though that of course takes time.

    Now What? (post China, post Oceans)

    The question of course remains, what should consumers and companies do at this time to improve their waste + packing footprints? For us, the clear opportunity is to help incentivize recycling by buying and using recycled materials. How materials are used will always vary by program and location but in broad strokes this is the best we can currently do to close the loop on the waste cycle. The benefits of using recycled PET (rPET) became even clearer after finishing a life cycle assessment of our product last year revealed it could help shave off 10% of our Almondmilk’s carbon footprint. We have not yet released a timeline and commitment on rPET as we are still assessing the implications and requirements to make the switch, however, we are confident we will be able to make a plan public before the end of the year.

    The other thing we all need to do is help increase the recycling rates in the US! US recycling rates have always been disappointingly low. Consumer education is important, which is why we started adding perforations to our labels and artwork to encourage people to unzip and tear off the label before recycling (removing the label improves sorting at most recycling facilities and the end value of the material). Lawmakers should also know that citizens think local recycling programs are a good use of tax dollars.

    We hope this is informative to your purchasing decisions and just remember, keep it plant based! Packaging is full of difficult tradeoffs but we firmly believe the drawbacks pale in comparison to the environmental benefits of substituting meat and dairy for plant based alternatives.

    We greatly appreciate consumers’ feedback and keep all of it in mind as we continually look for more ways to do right by our planet. Please let us know if you have any other questions, and happy holidays! ⭐

    Cheers,

    Kelly
    Califia Farms | Consumer Care | http://www.califiafarms.com

    • Emily P.

      What a thoughtfully written response from Califia! It’s heartening to know that they are already considering some good ideas on reducing their carbon footprint. I like their plant-based milks very much (I’ve been vegan for over 13 years!) and I keep one Califia bottle around to use as a vase for long-stemmed flowers. The others, I’ve put into the recycling bin.

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