Evergreen’s New PlantCarton™ (and Why We Made the Switch)

When we started New Barn in 2015, one of our customers’ favorite things about our Almondmilk was the bottle it was packaged in (second only to the delicious organic Almondmilk inside of those bottles). We designed a custom package to pay homage to a vintage Italian milk bottle that we’d fallen in love with, and our customers fell in love, too. Those bottles became a key part of our brand, standing out on store shelves all over the country. 

But as the public conversation about plastics began to grow in size, our customers fell out of love with our bottles. No matter how pretty the shape, the fact was that they were still made out of plastic. We’d taken great care to make sure that they were made of the most recyclable plastic commercially available, PET #1. Short for polyethylene terephthalate, PET plastic (sometimes written as PETE) is readily accepted by most curbside recycling programs, and can be recycled into tote bags, furniture, polar fleece, and even carpet and paneling. Of all the available plastics, it was the best choice we could make at the time.

Since then, we’ve become aware of a lot of new research about plastic packaging. PET is a type of polyester, which makes it very durable. It doesn’t contain any phthalates or BPA, making it a good choice for use in plastic bottles, which have been in production since 1973. Of all the available packaging plastics, it’s still the most responsible choice.

But PET does have a flaw: it doesn’t biodegrade easily. The material’s durability makes it slow to break down naturally, contributing to the overabundance of microplastics in the ecosystem. There’s emerging evidence showing that microplastics are damaging to the environment, contaminating the animals who accidentally consume the plastic in the wild (who then contaminate the animals who eat those animals, including humans). Microplastics are a direct result of human activity, and plastic bottles are a large contributor to the problem. We’re still figuring out what the full effects of microplastics in the ecosystem will be, which means we’re currently living in a real-time science experiment on a global scale.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that most people don’t recycle their plastic, to the tune of 60 million plastic bottles ending up in landfills and incinerators every day. And that’s just in the U.S. Since the mass production of plastics began in the 1950s, billions of tons of plastic hasn’t been recycled worldwide (8.3 billion metric tons, to be exact). That scale is so massive that even many scientists can’t wrap their heads around it.

A 2018 Greenpeace report outlines a large part of the problem: the businesses who produce and use these plastics don’t have any standards for dealing with their disposal, and don’t have any plans to develop such standards. And most consumer beverage manufacturers hardly use any recycled plastic content in their plastic packaging. Large manufacturers of bottled drinks such as Coca-Cola and Nestlé Waters North America use only between 6—7% recycled plastic in their bottles, a clear sign that they aren’t concerned with the end life of the plastics they use. With 1 million plastic bottles purchased every minute across the globe (91% of which will never be recycled), the enormity of the issue is mind-boggling.

With all of this information now available to us, we’ve decided that we no longer want to contribute to the problem. While we’re still on the search for better packaging across all of our product lines, we’ve found a great solution for our fluid Almondmilk products: the PlantCarton™ from Evergreen Packaging. PlantCarton™ uses 80% less plastic than bottles do, and these plant-based packages are 100% recyclable. Made from 75% material sourced from responsibly managed forests (and certified by three separate third-party standards for renewable forestry practices), these cartons are the best available option on the market. Switching from our old bottle to the new PlantCarton™ has enabled us to reduce the amount of plastic in our supply chain by about 90%, which we think is very good news.

We’d love to switch away from plastics entirely, and we will continue to seek commercially viable solutions to this problem. The folks at Evergreen are always working on improving their sustainability standards, and their numbers will continue to improve as more companies choose the PlantCarton™. We encourage as many of our competitors as possible to consider making the switch from plastic. The more of us do so, the more eco-friendly the available choices will become.

This is a big moment in the development of sustainable packaging, and we’re proud to call Evergreen Packaging our partner as we all strive together for greater awareness of the environmental impact of packaging choices. Our choice is the PlantCarton™, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this new packaging to our customers.

As a bonus, our core organic Almondmilk line is now packaged with four more ounces inside (for a total of 32 ounces), offered at the same great price as before. We’re also offering a larger 59-ounce lineup of our Unsweetened, Toasted Coconut, and Chocolate Almondmilks, as well as their pint-sized cousins, our new line of organic non-dairy Creamers. Those will be available in Caramel, Vanilla, Mocha, and Unsweetened flavors.

Exciting new products in exciting new packaging… it doesn’t get any better than this!

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