One of the most important things we can do for the future of our planet is to eliminate our consumption of plastic.
It is estimated that every year eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans. To put that number into perspective, it’s the equivalent of a full sized garbage truck load every single minute.
If our plastic consumption continues at its current rate there will be more pieces of plastic than there are fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Plastic devastates ocean biodiversity, causes life-threatening danger to wildlife, and as it is consumed by fish it finds its way up through the food chain into sea birds, animals and even humans. According to a Belgian study people who eat fish are estimated to consume around 11,000 fragments of plastic each year.
And of course our oceans are just one small part of the problem. Plastic waste litters towns and cities and takes up millions of acres of landfill. Most plastic is also made from non-renewable resources such as coal and crude oil.
Whichever way you look at it there is no denying that plastic waste is a huge problem. And we all need to take responsibility.
But getting to this point wasn’t easy. Like all good stories, our journey to plastic free was taken on a path that few have ever travelled and came with many twists and turns along the way.
In this short article I’ll tell you more about what it has taken for us to go entirely plastic free.
Where we’ve come from
Since the very first day we started we’ve always been incredibly conscious of our environmental impact.
We make all of our products ourselves in our own renewable energy powered facility, and we offset all of our carbon emissions to renewable energy projects around the world. But finding a sustainable packaging solution has always been the biggest problem.
When we first started we sold our products in recyclable tubs because we believed this to be the most sustainable packaging option available. Here is a picture of how our protein used to look back in the day!
However, as our business began to grow we found that the fuel required to ship the tubs around the world far outweighed the environmental benefits of them being recyclable. The tubs were bulky and heavy, and took up a lot of space in transit. We knew we needed to find another solution.
After a ton of research we arrived at our current packaging, made from BPA food grade plastic. They could be recycled at a specialist recycling centre* and most importantly, because they are lightweight and paper thin they immediately slashed our fuel and cardboard consumption resulting from shipments going across the world.
On the other hand, the pouches are still made of plastic. And although they were the best solution we had available at the time, we stayed consistently on the cusp of the latest packaging innovations in the search for a more sustainable answer. We visited countless packaging expos (they’re as fun as they sound) and spent days on the phone to sustainability experts looking for alternatives. As time went on and technology improved, a solution started to become clear.
*It is worth noting that almost all food grade pouches cannot be recycled with your usual refuse collection, because they have to have a metal layer on the inside to stop the food from spoiling. In order to be recycled they must be sent to a specialist recycling centre where the metal layer can be separated from the plastic, and both parts recycled separately.
This solution is far from ideal but again, it was the best available at the time.
Where we are going
As more and more people started to demand sustainable packaging options we started to see terms such as ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ banded around a lot more.
It was on a call with my friend Cal that I really got clarity on what both of them meant. Cal is an environmentalist who recently circumnavigated the coast of the entire UK on a paddleboard to raise awareness about plastic pollution. You can find out more about her adventures on her website: www.paddleagainstplastic.com
- Biodegradable refers to any materials that break down in the environment – no matter how long it takes them to break down, or indeed what they break down into.
- Compostable refers to items that are made from organic matter and are able to completely break down to form a nutrient rich soil or compost. For example: an apple core, a potato peeling or a piece of tree bark are all naturally compostable.
But even compostable can be a bit of a grey area, as it can refer to both home compostable and industrial compostable. What’s the difference, you ask?
- Industrial compostable requires specialist heat / light / oxygen conditions to compost, which means it must be composted at a specialist composting facility . This is still much better than biodegradable but you must ensure you are disposing of it correctly otherwise it will just end up in landfill. If you have an item that is industrial compostable contact your local authority about the best way to dispose of it.
- Home compostable means it can break down in normal composting conditions such as a food waste collection or a backyard compost pile. Home compostable is considered the gold standard in compostable items.
Armed with this information we knew that our next move had to be towards home compostable packaging. This was the only packaging option that we were confident would provide a truly sustainable, zero waste solution and wasn’t just another marketing buzzword.
So we set out to work on creating our home compostable packaging, working with consultants and suppliers from all over the world to make it a reality. We researched every single material in the packaging to ensure they were all truly home compostable. We printed prototypes in various sizes and tested them for shelf life stability, oxygen transmission and structural integrity during transit. We measured the composting process and conducted mineral analysis on the soils so we knew that they could down safely and efficiently.
And after over a year of work, we had a solution.
We had arrived at our brand new packaging that is entirely plastic free, made from plants, and can be composted in your food waste or even your back garden. In normal composting conditions it breaks down into healthy soil within just 6 – 12 months.
Our new compostable packaging is as strong and sturdy as our previous one and available now!
Here is an illustration showing you how our compostable packaging works:
But what about the scoops?
Before our move towards home compostable packaging had been completed there was one last thing we needed to address.
If you’ve placed an order recently you may have already noticed that we now no longer include plastic scoops inside the pouch. This was the last bit of plastic we had left in our business and decided that the most effective solution was to remove them entirely.
We offer a re-usable compostable scoop set on our website which you can buy once and use forever. We also plant a tree for every scoop sold on our website.
Or alternatively, you can easily measure your serving using tablespoons by following the instructions printed on the pack.
By this summer all of our products should be completely scoopless and Vivo Life will be entirely plastic free.
And the best part is that all of this could not have been done without you…
We launched our 100% home compostable packaging last year but in order to get there we needed your help.
As an independent business raising the funds we needed to launch our new packaging would have taken months, but we were determined to act on plastic straight away. So we created a Kickstarter campaign which allowed you to pre-order your favourite products in our brand new home compostable packaging. With that, we hit our target!
Since then, we have been producing all of our products in our home compostable packaging and by placing any order on our website you are helping us make a massive change for our planet and go completely plastic free as soon as possible.
This is the biggest and most crucial change we have ever made but we couldn't have done it without your help.
Click on the link below to view our home compostable products and help us create a brighter and greener future for our planet. Together we can make this change a reality!