Image courtesy of Marcell Viragh, on Unsplash
Many alternative protein companies embrace the ethos of working for a more sustainable future. This mission extends beyond the brands’ fundamental operations which, for the most part, already involve utilizing less energy and increasing water efficiency. Rather, this goal incorporates broader behavior changes like embracing sustainable packaging, and in some cases entirely removing plastic from the equation.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a minimum of 14 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every single year and currently plastic waste makes up over 80 percent of all waste found in marine environments. This plastic acts as a hazard for wildlife, such as turtles, dolphins, and many fish species which mistake the litter for food and are often poisoned or asphyxiated when consuming these items. Created from the chemical byproducts of oil and coal production, this plastic waste also exudes toxins that can damage the environment for years to come.
There is a growing awareness of this issue, and several companies are taking meaningful action to address the problem. RePurpose Global is an organization that has been formed to “provide businesses with immediate, tangible, and powerful ways to create impact and reduce plastic waste.” This group has partnered with global companies like Google, Colgate, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as 20 alternative protein companies.
To receive a Plastic Negative Certification from rePurpose, brands must recover the plastic waste equivalent of twice their unique plastic footprint. Brands can also receive a Plastic Neutral Certification, which means funding the removal of as much plastic as they use.
“We are living in a plastic epidemic,” said rePurpose Global’s co-founder Peter Wang Hjemdahl. “There is no single solution. Now more than ever, there is a critical need for like-minded brands to come together and use their collective strength to help tackle plastic pollution head-on.”
Currently there are limited options available for companies looking to embrace plastic-free packaging, though these are becoming both broader in range and more available in the market as they are adopted at scale. The leading alternative at present is kraft paperboard containers