Great Eastern Sun Plastic Neutral Certification

 

We love healthy food, and healthy food comes from a healthy planet. That’s why we’ve partnered with rePurpose Global to become a certified plastic neutral company. rePurpose works in developing countries which are struggling with plastic waste due to lack of infrastructure and funding to employ and empower marginalized waste workers to ethically reclaim and dispose of low-value plastic waste.

Here’s a little bit more about our plastic neutral journey and the program we sponsor.

Why use plastic in the first place? Why not glass or another alternative?

Although we currently use plastic packaging, we are continually working with our suppliers to find solutions that reduce or eliminate the amount of plastic per container, utilize recycled plastic and are truly recyclable. We also regularly communicate to our suppliers that we want a plastic alternative container that is eco-friendly. There are some promising solutions on the horizon and we can’t wait for a viable alternative to become available!

We have explored “paper” carton options. These packages have an eco-friendly outward appearance, but still have layers of plastic hidden within the paper. Packaging with layers of plastic within another material are called multi-layer packages and are currently not recyclable or compostable. Some companies have adopted multi-layer packaging to give the impression that their product is eco-friendly, but the packaging still contains plastic and is not recyclable.

Why not use glass? While glass is a superior material in some ways, it has many disadvantages. Glass is much heavier than plastic and manufacturing glass and mining the raw materials to make glass are energy intensive processes.

Glass is also fragile, so during transport some of the jars chip, crack, or shatter. Once this happens it is no longer safe to eat the contents and it must be thrown away, resulting in food and glass that goes to waste.

Glass jars are also much more expense than plastic. We’ve tried glass packaging in the past, but the added weight of glass vs plastic greatly increases shipping costs due to the increase in the amount of fossil fuels that must be used to transport heavier shipments. Continuing to package in glass would force us to substantially raise our prices, pushing our miso out of the affordable price point we try to keep it at to make it accessible to customers from all economic backgrounds.

We agree that a plastic alternative is ideal, and are continually working with our suppliers to identify eco-friendly, light-weight alternatives to plastic packaging.

What does certified plastic neutral mean?

Essentially, being certified plastic neutral means we account for all plastics used in our packaging, production, and shipping, and remove an equivalent amount of low-value plastics from the environment through our partnership with rePurpose Global.

What are low-value plastics?

Low-value plastics are things like chip bags, candy wrappers, and blister packs. These are items that cannot be traditionally recycled. Many developing countries lack infrastructure to process this waste, and it ultimately ends up openly burned in burn piles, sent to the landfill, or in the ocean.

Our partnership with rePurpose Global has allowed us to fund an Impact Project called Project Hara Kal. Project Hara Kal provides funding and support for a waste management and recycling facility located in Malappuram, India, an area known for its mountainous terrain and Arabian Sea shoreline. Villages in Malappuram lacked any meaningful waste management infrastructure, meaning low-value plastics were discarded into the natural environment, openly burned, or ocean-bound. 70% to 80% of plastic packaging used in Malappuram is comprised of low-value plastics.

Project Hara Kal has created a waste management supply chain for this region, mobilizing women and local youth to participate in the project by funding their training and employment. Our plastic neutral program helps to fund the sorting, segregation, and transport of recovered low-value plastics that were previously bound for burn piles or the ocean.

Once sorted, recyclable plastics are sold to local recyclers while the recovered low-value plastics are transported to a cement kiln for co-processing.

What is co-processing?

Co-processing is a process where waste is converted into energy. It is practiced in many countries as a regular method of environmentally sound disposal for low- value plastic waste. In the case of Project Hara Kal, the low-value plastics are burned to create fuel for cement kilns, offsetting the use of coal.

Isn’t burning plastic bad?

Due to the high temperature in the cement kilns, the plastic waste is effectively disposed of without harmful emissions. The low-value plastics also offset the use of fossil fuels such as coal, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In developing nations co-processing provides needed energy and reduces fossil fuel consumption by energy intensive industries (such as the cement industry) while removing waste from the environment.

Is it enough?

We are passionate about finding viable, non-plastic packaging for our products that are currently packaged in plastic, and will continuously explore options until we find suitable solutions. In the interim we’re doing our best to be environmentally aware and remain active participants in pursuing change, innovation, and programs that benefit the planet and its people.