Plastic. A creation wrought with conflict, with a universe of applications. It was in the 1950’s that we said goodbye to wood, stone, horn and bone, leather, metal, glass and ceramic and began to celebrate the invention of the amazing polymer. With great enthusiasm, we lauded it’s versatility, light weight, cheap cost and microbial resistance by swiftly incorporating it into any aspect of human life of which we could possibly conceive. Food waste decreased, the cost of industries across the board decreased dramatically, innovation skyrocketed. Today, we still reap these same benefits but instead of celebrating, we shudder at (or turn a blind eye to) our plastic addiction. We simply can’t replace something that has brought so much efficiency to our world of progress. We recoil from photos of bloated whales’ bellies full of the stuff, shudder when we read articles about the likelihood of micro plastics ingested and lodged in our own tissues, buy bagged brussel sprouts at Trader Joes because we just don’t have time to make it to the farmer’s market and still we persist in our plastic purchases.
You’d be hard pressed to find a person who isn’t aware by now that plastic, in it’s single use form, is dangerous. It is far too easy for a straw, the wrapping of a quickly eaten sandwich or the seal of your new shampoo to be tossed aside. These forgotten plastic particles are too often left to float on the winds until they reach the sea, or else go into a waste bin, where they will eventually make their way to a landfill, where they will off-gas with enthusiasm, increasing the CO2 in our atmosphere. The quest for eradication of the stuff is top of the stack for hundreds of brilliant minds who are routinely flummoxed. Bioplastic seems better in theory but can’t biodegrade without a proper facility. Glass is great but the weight of this old world favorite contributes dramatically to an increased carbon footprint in shipping and logistics. Solutions exist but none that are as wholly perfect in practical application as our darling plastic.
What if there was a way to look at our plastic problem without feeling overwhelming despair? It is all too easy to fall into a downward spiral when presented with any one of the environmental issues we now face as a civilization. Some might argue that humans aren’t designed to contemplate the immensity of a problem this big, that we are assigned to a fate to focus on what is right in front of us. Maybe, but if that’s the case, all it takes is for the majority of us to acknowledge that we have a big fat plastic problem, it’s right in front of us and, with a little awareness, we have the ability to make daily choices that radically alter the perilous positioning of plastic on our planet.
We’re all familiar with the concept of recycling. Anyone that is reading this article more than likely has the great fortune to live in a municipal district that boasts a recycling program; with a system that equips you with a special receptacle that is picked up each week.
Allow us to paint a picture of just how critically impactful it is for you to -
1. Perform the simple act of cleaning out your single use plastics and placing them in the recyclables bin.
2. How crucial it is for you to look for, prefer and purchase products products that are packed in post-consumer recycled plastic.
In this picture, dessert hummus is Delighted By’s canvas and pallet (along with the family of other sweet treats we hope to share with the world). Read on for our plastic position and how we’re evolving our relationship with these controversial containers.
Hummus is traditionally packed in plastic tubs for a variety of reasons. Aside from it’s immense detriment to our environment, the bottom line is that plastic is a perfect solution insofar as food preservation, cost, portability efficiency and more.
1. Hummus is classified as a perishable food that requires refrigerated storage in a completely non-porous container, lest microbes enter and contaminate the product.
2. The “market price” of hummus simply doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room for manufacturers to pack in more expensive containers.
3. The lightweight, durable nature of plastic prevents breakage throughout the supply chain and affords decreased cost (and carbon footprint) in shipping.
Needless to say, Delighted By is less interested in ‘the bottom line’ and more interested in the health and integrity of our planet, so we dug deep into this issue with our tub manufacturers (some of us have nightmares of empty tubs stacked high in landfills ). Did you know 91% of plastic isn’t recycled? We learned that our plastic manufacturers have the option to either purchase virgin plastic or post-consumer ‘flake’ or whole ingots of post-consumer resin. The post consumer material is more expensive, naturally, because it has to go through a sorting, processing and decontamination process. Despite the difference in cost, our manufacturers have seen a dramatic increase in demand in the last year. Food manufacturers are paying more for their containers because more customers are demanding post consumer recycled products. By the end of 2020, they anticipate post-consumer recycled content to be 60% of their business. We are Delighted to report that we will be contributing to this percentage. Delighted By sweet dips will be packaged in post consumer recycled plastic tubs by June 1, 2020, and will never again contribute to the 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic that have been produced since the 1950s.
Here’s the thing. Recycling infrastructure is expensive. When China stopped buying our recyclables in January of 2018, we saw some cities in the US disband their recycling programs because there just wasn’t demand for repurposed material. In a capitalist system, recycling programs only work so long as there is there is a buyer on the other side of the facility. We are that buyer, and in being so, actively participate in a close looped system where constant vigilance, and education, is key. We highly encourage you to follow suit and stand among the ranks of consumers who demand their plastic be post consumer recycled, not newly generated.
We hope to continue to bring our findings to you as we dig deeper and deeper into sustainable solutions in the food industry and beyond.
Stay tuned for more. We see post consumer recycled plastics, and education of their importance, as Phase 1 of our Green Packaging Upgrade. For Phase 2, Delighted By and it’s manufacturing partners are currently exploring ceramic containers for the future and until then, will continue to share the important place of post consumer recycled plastics in the food industry and beyond.
- Written by our very own Smooth Operator, Maressa Garner