Glass and plastic and bioplastic, oh my!
posted by Kris Taylor
As an environmentalist, you quickly realize that starting up a company and being a perfect steward of the planet aren’t exactly easy to do. Every decision requires a quick gut check in along the lines of, “Does this help or hurt the planet?”.
Almost everything out there hurts the planet right now. Don’t get stuck on that, though. Seriously, don’t.
It’s not worth the mental anguish, energy, and distraction. The only way to move is forwards. I've met too many people who are paralyzed by the immensity of these problems to the point that they don't see the solutions that they could be contributing to the world. I've definitely been there before. As a society, we’re making remarkable progress on this in recent decades. Nowadays you see renewable energy that is just as inexpensive as fossil fuel-based electricity, you see electric cars slowly filling the roads, you see municipal composting programs, and much more.
So, what does this have to do with juice?
Well, as a company, we make stuff. And stuff can either be environmentally damaging, sustainable, or beneficial. With Lumen, we’re aiming for the latter.
Are we there yet? Not quite.
Will we be there someday? Definitely.
We have a slew of supply chain improvements and innovations in our pipeline that will make our vision of becoming a carbon negative company become a reality. Already, we’ve made a commitment to only use hemp grown using regenerative agriculture. It’s a tenant we are founded on: regenerate the vitality of our planet and fix what was damaged in the past. Other components of our packaging are made using post-consumer recycled goods, like our cardboard boxes.
In today’s vlog, I focused on the environmental conundrum of bottling our juices. We’ve decided to go with PET plastic, and this was my thought process behind making that choice. Bear with me, this is going to get dense for a minute.
By transitioning into recycled PET, we’ll be able to mitigate the carbon footprint for bottles by 30-80% (1,2,3), which is really helpful when we start to tally up the carbon emissions of Lumen. Shifting to bioplastics offers a potentially larger savings in carbon (4), but with some other negative tradeoffs. There are pros and cons to every decision, and some improvements just take time to work into. Blowing new glass bottles may have a larger carbon footprint than new plastic bottles, but the ramifications if the consumer doesn’t recycle the bottle aren’t as bad (5). Being able to shelf stabilize our juices with high pressure processing means that we can’t use glass or bioplastics at the current development of technology. This is the main reason why the juices you find on the shelves at groceries are all in plastic. The decision-making process tree goes on and on.
I wanted to take you through this through process as an exercise so that you can better understand challenges that companies face throughout their existence and, hopefully, give you a peek behind the curtains of what it means to be a startup founder environmentalist in a not-so-environmentally-responsible world.
To those of you out there focused on making a difference in the world: we can do it. We are doing it. Baby steps. Be the change that you want to see. Make the change that doesn’t exist yet. Life is a work in progress, and our companies are no different.