Let’s Talk About the Plastic
Plastics have been one of the defining environmental concerns of our day, previously seen as a post-war miracle. Conversations around the issue have shifted from fringe to mainstream, from the uptick of communities banning disposable bags to major coffee chains urging customers to accept reusable cups.
Sustainability is at the root of all that we do here at tio.farm, which may cause us to ask: What about the plastic containers?
Infrastructure will sum up the brief response.
The long response shows that when selecting packaging that fits with their products and can be considered sustainable, the dynamic Venn diagram businesses need to remember, both before and after it is used to place lettuce on the market.
Our team painstakingly researched all the choices on the market when selecting packaging, from plant-based fabrics to closed loop recycled options. We weighed a few primary variables for all of them:
- Does the material make sense for our product?
- Do we know the material is safe?
- How sustainable is the material over its entire lifespan?
As a company selling a perishable substance that had to stay comfortably in your home for several days, we realized that plastics were the generally recognized market norm, post-consumer recycled or our way of recollecting the boxes on every next purchase. Since the status quo is never embraced by us, we set out to find new choices.
Exploring compostables was the logical first step. While no one can dispute the materials' pledge, we discovered two things quickly:
Many of these containers, with no known half-life, contain dangerous chemicals.
Many municipalities do not have the facilities in place to adequately compost them.
Infrastructure is essential: most backyard compost bins do not produce adequate heat to adequately break down these tanks, and some commercial compost facilities would not allow them, such as those run by municipalities, assuming of course, that the average user has access to a compost facility to begin with.
We then searched for a solution elsewhere, turning to creative materials like packaging based on mushrooms or banana leaves. Although these materials are starting to gain popularity in furniture and other item packaging, manufacturers have not yet been able to produce a food-safe version.
Back to Plastic
This takes us back to our decision to use plastic, especially recycled post-consumer plastics, and that word again: Infrastructure.
We also collaborated with the best-in-class food grade plastic manufacturer in our region, to minimize our effect from start to finish, ensuring that each of our packages uses the equivalent of 4 recycled water bottles or use the returns we take from your home, recycled on site by the manufacturer themselves. Including proper signage, we have also built our containers to better ensure that they are correctly recycled by any local recycler.
Recycling is an incomplete method, but it is also the most proven way to guarantee that materials are reused in the largest variety of ways. And in the largest number of situations, if the ultimate aim is to ensure the longest product lifetime, then, recycling is our best bet. It seems like the most ethical packaging choice we could make to realize that our HygieneBox's are made from recycled products and can be widely recycled after use.
We don't embrace this as the ideal solution, only the one that right now makes the most holistic sense. Like we said, we've never been to the status quo before.
How can I help us move away from plastic?
Our team continues to study and test solutions, and you can contribute, even though it might sound insane!
Infrastructure improvements also spring from civic pressure. Shaping this may be as straightforward as reaching the elected leaders in your community about composting. Here are a few forms in your field to advocate composting.
When more communities and cities adopt composting schemes, more corporations will consider compostable plastic substitutes safely, recognizing that such products would not wind up in a landfill.
As we continue to strengthen our sustainable practices, thank you for supporting our business. Keep tuned for further insights into how our packaging is manufactured, how we select manufacturers, and how our industry continues to grow to reduce our footprint.