REBBL, an organic beverage company that creates plant-based elixirs, makes strides in reducing its environmental footprint by incorporating recycled plastic into its bottles. A core part of REBBL’s mission is to create positive social and environmental impact by leveraging business as a tool for good. Through ethical, impact sourcing of ingredients, REBBL strives for dignified supply chains, promotes regenerative stewardship of the earth and its resources, and empowers communities around the world, thereby reducing the risk of human trafficking. REBBL also contributes 2.5% of net sales to the nonprofit Not for Sale, an organization that supports survivors of exploitation.
PROPOSED PACKAGING CHANGES
Environmental impact is also a major priority for REBBL. To improve the footprint of their packaging, REBBL sought to incorporate more recycled content into their polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. This allows them to use the same bottle supplier with no new machines or converting processes, thus reducing supply chain impact.
“In order to move the needle in carbon drawdown, companies must take responsibility in every aspect of their business: from how ingredients are grown and the impact on communities from which they are sourced to the transportation and packaging they choose,” said REBBL SVP of Supply Chain, Librado Guerrero. “That’s why it’s important for REBBL to switch to utilizing 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material.” REBBL is a leading member of the Climate Collaborative, which represents a cohort of natural products industry companies working to reverse climate change through climate action commitments in nine key areas, including packaging. The Climate Collaborative has partnered with Trayak to aid companies in developing sustainable packaging choices. The project requires a life cycle assessment that compares the impacts of a bottle that contains either 0% or 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content.
PERFORMING THE LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT
Trayak specializes in helping companies to quickly benchmark their existing packaging to improve the sustainability of their packaging. Their Life Cycle Assessment tool, EcoImpact-COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment), allows companies to model their packaging systems, determine environmental impacts, and report reductions. This can also be used to simulate the benefits derived from varying levels of PCR content.
For the conversion process, Climate Collaborative, REBBL, and Trayak worked together to collect the packaging system information (materials, masses, conversion processes, etc.) and perform the life cycle assessment with EcoImpact-COMPASS.
INCORPORATING RECYCLED CONTENT INTO PET BOTTLES
The environmental benefits of incorporating recycled content into the PET bottles were significant. Reductions were observed across all the indicators especially in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS REDUCTION:
The 16.5% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction attained from incorporating 50% PCR PET occurs because the new bottle avoids the use of fossil fuel-based virgin materials to make the bottle’s plastic, while also diverting waste from the landfill. Waste that is sent to a landfill generally has additional emissions as it decomposes.
Switching 20 million REBBL bottles annually to 50% PCR PET reduces GHG emissions by 516 tons of CO2 eq—same amount of carbon sequestered by 551 acres of US forests in one year!
FOSSIL FUEL CONSUMPTION REDUCTION:
Utilizing recycled PET for the bottle reduces the fossil fuel consumption by a quarter (25% reduction) because the energy, transportation, and overall material impact is reduced.
Annually, switching bottles of REBBL to 50% recycled PET results in reducing fossil fuel consumption by 13.6 million MJ deprived which could power 363 average US homes for an entire year!
WATER CONSUMPTION REDUCTION:
Water use will be reduced by 28% because the manufacture of virgin plastics uses much more water than using recycled PET. Although recycled PET needs to be rinsed before being reincorporated into new bottles, the water use is much less than virgin plastic.
Annually, utilizing 50% recycled content in the bottles reduces water use by 73 million gallons – water required to fill 3,646 average backyard swimming pools.
REBBL will continue to prioritize environmental impact reductions, and this conversion to 50% PCR PET bottles is an important step in their journey. Utilizing the new 50% PCR bottle will allow REBBL to achieve significant environmental impact reduction without disrupting their supply chain. If you are interested in this type of engagement, please reach out to Trayak or the Climate Collaborative.
Happy Family Organics started as Happy Baby in 2006 with the mission to provide healthy food options for babies to give them the happiest beginning through organic, thoughtfully-made food. Since then, the company has grown exponentially and continues to offer organic food options without artificial hormones, GMOs, or toxic pesticides in innovative packaging that strays away from the conventional heavy glass jar.
One of these products is freeze dried yogurt and fruit snacks called Happy Baby Organic Yogis. Happy Family’s Packaging Development Manager, Marcu Alexander and Director of Sustainability, Katie Clark noticed that the Yogis 1 oz package was bigger and bulkier than necessary and set out to right size the pouch. Working with their supplier they were able to reduce the headspace of the pouch as well as right size the outer case while still protecting the product.
As Happy Family designed this new right-size Yogis package, they engaged with Climate Collaborative and Trayak on a sustainability assessment of their packaging. Climate Collaborative represents a cohort of natural products industry companies working toward reversing climate change through various environmental reduction commitments and resources. One of these partnerships is with Trayak who specializes in providing easy tools for quickly benchmarking existing packaging while helping with decision making to improve the sustainability of a company’s packaging. Trayak provides a Life Cycle Assessment tool EcoImpact-COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) allowing companies to model their packaging systems, determine environmental impacts, and report reductions.
Climate Collaborative, Happy Family, and Trayak all worked together to collect the packaging system information (materials, masses, conversion processes, etc.) and perform the life cycle assessment with EcoImpact-COMPASS.
The right-size packaging design had a positive impact on all phases of the life cycle of the Yogis. Happy Family saw improvements in reduced material use, efficient transport, and less material sent to landfill. The original packaging system (pallet) transported 864 pouches while the new right sized packaging system can transport 1428 pouches representing a 65% improvement in palletization in terms of the pouch. Additionally, the secondary cases were smaller so more were able to fit onto the pallet which also increased the entire cube utilization by 4%.
RIGHT-SIZING PACKAGES CAN SAVE RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION:
The packaging change has resulted in reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 13%. These reductions break down into 13% for material impact, 14% in end of life impacts (landfilling), and 28% in transportation impacts.
A 13% overall reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions equates to 2,451 kg CO2-eq per 102,816 pouches. With the production of 2,000,000 pouches Happy Family is reducing GHG emissions by 47,676 kg CO2 eq. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 10.2 passenger vehicles driven for a year.
To deliver 102,816 pouches of Yogis a savings of 2050.9 kg in total materials used is achieved which includes reductions in the pouch, case, and pallet use.
In other words with this new design, for delivering 2 million Yogis
- 980 kilograms of pouch materials were avoided
- 134,400 kilograms of corrugated case material was not used
- 914 wooden pallets were not needed
HUMAN IMPACTS BENEFITS:
The Human Impacts of the packaging system comprised of particulates, carcinogens and toxic non-carcinogens were calculated which saw a 13% reduction.
As Katie Clark puts it “when you hear our mission, you don’t automatically connect it to sustainability, but for us, part of that core mission is about removing toxins from all of the environments that impact baby’s health.”
COST SAVINGS AND THE BUSINESS CASE:
It’s clear that there was a substantial environmental impact benefit with this new packaging strategy, but many times company’s cite increased cost or poor performance as a barrier to making more sustainable package decisions. In this case, Happy Family saw a cost savings of about 37% because of using less material and transporting shorter distances with lighter packages. Also, the new pouch has an additional layer better protecting the product and improving overall performance.