Packaging is a tough business. Some of the greatest earth-friendly innovations can’t be used for many products. Sonoco (one of the big players in plastics in the US) help create, at Clemson University’s packaging lab, one of the first plant-based plastics (using corn). I know, because it happened after I graduated Clemson in a degree in packaging and food science (where we used the Sonoco Lab). Later on I worked at Virginia Tech at a packaging lab, with a bunch of dudes with pocket protectors (they are actually very handy), dropping pallets on their sides (studying materials). Everything in the supply chain is always tested.
While innovations are occurring everyday, we just keep our ear to the ground so we know what options are available. Many innovations are just not compatible with our product (yet).
The aluminum cans we started with, from more of an expert’s opinion, is just not as friendly as you think. Most aluminum comes from energy created at coal burning plants (LOTS OF DIRTY ENERGY – CO 2 emissions). Plastics take a tiny fraction of the cost of energy and material.
The biggest single problem to plastics is NO ONE RECYCLES. Our current jar is #2 plastic, which can easily be recycled! It’s compatible with our HIGH EO CONTENT, which is a health issue if it’s NOT packaged correctly. Toothpaste tubes are SUPER OFFENDERS, as they cannot be recycled (due to how complicated it would be).
In fact, it’s a huge POLITICAL issue. Many towns and counties do not have recycling programs and if they do, you have to pay for it. On top of that VIRGIN plastic, is slightly cheaper than recycled plastic (that doesn’t often have the barrier properties). For some companies you can go this route, others cannot.
Many have adopted a #zerowaste lifestyle and were royally upset at us for the switch. I get it. I applaud their efforts! I just switched to a shampoo bar and it’s AMAZING! Never even had shampoo that worked this well! Someone told me once that if I don’t look homeless, I’m not working HARD ENOUGH. Well, I was looking homeless…everyday (from work and from my hair).
The aluminum can be #upcycled (re-purposed), but so can the current jar. I had a friend in North Carolina who sent me pics of using it as a jewelry holder for travel AND one to put her phone buds in, etc. I just get to refill my jars since there is powder EVERYWHERE here (not a drug reference).
There are no completely wrong or right answers here, just shades of grey. The only WRONG is the politics behind NOT recycling and local governments being so UNINSPIRED. We could make laws to make it work for business to buy recycled packaging and for everyone to win.
Click here to discover more about our earth friendly options!