Whatever your definition of sustainability, we can all agree that putting this concept into practice is important to our future and the planet’s. Preserving the environment for future generations takes efforts that start here and now. And consumers are realizing this more and more every day.
Demand for sustainable alternatives continues to grow. And businesses that respond to that demand are doing the right thing, in many ways. Not only is going green good for the environment, it also boosts company morale and conscience. Businesses can also reap financial benefits from positive publicity, customer appreciation and loyalty, increased sales and even decreased operating costs.
Making the transition from traditional foodservice supplies to sustainables can generate great returns on investment — environmental and economical — now and in the future.
Options exist for disposable foodservice packaging
The amount of throwaway packaging used today is enormous. Foodservice operations of all kinds need them to serve their customers. Often however, it is impractical or inconvenient for many businesses to offer customers reusable containers and serveware that need to be washed and sterilized.
Disposables are a given. But using petroleum based products derived from fossil fuels doesn’t have to be. There are NOW alternatives.
Products made from biomass are carbon neutral
biomass plant sources (“new carbon”) absorb carbon from the atmosphere during the photosynthesis process. The plants then convert the carbon to glucose, which in turn can be converted into more complicated molecules such as sugars, starches, oils and proteins.
These sugars and starches form the base material for bioplastics — PLA (polylactide) products that are biodegradable and compostable in the proper environment.
When these and other packaging products made from biomass are composted, the carbon is returned to the soil. This process not only introduces fewer, net-new greenhouse emissions (such as those that originate in landfills), it also aids in the growth of new plants. It is a perfect balance, and why products made from plant sources are carbon neutral.
Utilising agricultural by-products as source material keeps carbon from reentering the atmosphere
For their dinnerware, VerTerra™ collects fallen leaves from tree plantations. BagasseWare® ulilises harvested sugarcane fibers left over after juice extraction. Both products prevent agricultural waste from being burned, a process that pollutes and releases carbon dioxide into the air.
Instead of sourcing their raw material from paper mills, Bridge-Gate uses wheat straw fibers from GMO-free harvested wheat (free of genetically modified organisms) for their products. They also strategically located their factory near the farms that grow the wheat to cut down on transport fossil fuel emissions.
Replacing harmful chemicals and eliminating pesticide use can help reduce greenhouse gases
Earth Friendly Products uses as many N.O.P. Certified Organic essential oils as they can find to put into their cleaning products, which are also free of phosphates and formaldehyde.
BioBag® uses only GMO-free certified crops for their bags, as well as soy-based inks for printing instead of those containing heavy metals.
Cups from ecotainer®and food boxes from BioPlus Earth® are printed with inks that are water-based instead of petroleum-based.
Many brands, including BagasseWare® and Bridge-Gate, source their material from wood pulp mills that use elemental chlorine-free bleach for whitening. This action substantially reduces the amount of chlorinated organic compounds (such as dioxins) that are released from mills into waterways, and that later evaporate into the atmosphere.
Responsibly managed forests help balance carbon in the atmosphere
Planting trees and practicing sustainable forestry can positively affect the carbon cycle and help slow the growth of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
For instance, tree fibers used to make ecotainer® cups come from SFI® certified forests that adhere to responsible forest management and harvesting guidelines. No trees from old-growth or endangered forests are used.
Earth Friendly Products does not use any plant sources that come from rainforests or areas vital to sustaining endangered wildlife.
Replanting of both trees and crops help ensure carbon capture and storage. And biomass feedstock sources — whether tree fibers, corn, sugar cane, wheat or sugar beets are renewable — unlike fossil fuels.
The widespread use of disposables made from petroleum must be curbed
Replacing petroleum-based foodservice disposables with those made from plants is an important step in the march towards preventing greenhouse gas emissions.
These and other steps taken to avoid using fossil fuels will move us closer to the ideal of having no net effect on the amount of carbon in the biosphere, in other words, to be carbon neutral.