PET Plastic, HDPE Plastic, or Biodegradable. Which Packaging is Best?

We love a sustainable option. 

Potato milk, anyone?As the first plastic and carbon neutral wellness brand, and knowing that the Earth is likely hotter now than, since the last Ice Age, we were keen to read the recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The findings uncovered something you likely already know. Humans are a direct cause of climate change, but climate disaster isn’t inevitable. 

Our individual choices over time lead to impactful change. We’re all out here, doing our best, with what’s available to us at any given time.  It all adds up, from walking to the store instead of driving, recycling, or reusing what we can and eating less meat. 

As a brand, sustainability and stepping up the game on environmental impact are built into our foundation.  As a part of our commitments, we partner with organizations like Plastic Bank to leave the world better than we found it. 

 

100% of the equivalent packaging weight in plastic waste is collected and returned to the recycling ecosystem. 

 

Since the beginning of our partnership in 2019, Natreve has helped prevent over 9 million plastic bottles from entering the ocean. Together, we will stop over 30M bottles from entering the ocean by the end of 2023. 

We also sponsor a collection branch in Indonesia. Positively impacting the lives of over 75 collectors and their families, providing financial empowerment and sustainable earnings.

We’re also proud to support Climate Collaborative, leveraging the power of the natural products industry to reverse climate change.

And we know there’s always room for improvement. Our goal is to be the world’s most sustainable wellness brand. 

One place we know we can do better is with our plastic tubs, so today, we’re answering:

 

Why does Nateve use plastic tubs?

“I love the taste of your products, but…Can you PLEASE offer refills in resealable bags? I find it so confusing that you tout your "ocean forward" initiative, but I end up with all these ridiculously thick & large plastic bottles. It's not necessary.”

"If your company is plastic neutral, why do you use plastic for your products? Kinda defeats the purpose of it just goes right back into the environment."

Yes, that is honest feedback from consumers. We believe in transparency and know that if these people are asking, others may be wondering. So let’s talk about it.

Our current product lineup is available in tubs (Whey, Keto, and Vegan Protein) and boxes of single-serve packets (Sleep Peaceful, Stress Less, and Immune Strength).

Our tubs are white and made from HDPE plastic which uses 25% less energy than hard PET and can be curbside recycled* in most neighborhoods.

Our boxes and single-serve packets are plastic-free and 100% recyclable. 

 

What does recyclable mean?

A package is “recyclable” when the materials can be processed by the proper facility and used again for something new.  The downside of recyclable packaging is recycling programs and availability vary widely. So while something is recyclable in theory, it may not get recycled in practice. Knowing where to recycle and what you can recycle can be confusing. To learn more about recycling, we highly recommend this resource:

Earth911 Recycling Guide

 

Why tubs? 

Great question. Let’s explore different packaging options.  

 

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

PET is one of the most commonly used plastics in consumer products and the number one plastic used to make single-serve water bottles. 

Pro: Can be recycled. Once recycled, it’s repurposed into textiles, pillow stuffing, life jackets, and more. 

Con: It’s meant for single-serve use, and it is the top contributor to plastic waste. 

 

 

In March 2020, bottled water sales increased by 57%.  Beverage Marketing Corporation noted that the pandemic “showed how consumers have come to depend on bottled water for healthy, calorie-free hydration and refreshment.”  

 

Can’t we just stop buying single-use water bottles?

It’s not that simple. As Nicole Cardoza says in her recent article “Protect Access to Drinking Water,” sometimes bottled water is the only clean water option, especially for those who live in areas where tap water is contaminated. 

 

HDPE Plastic (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic. Products made from HDPE plastic (like Natreve Vegan, Whey, and Keto Protein Powders) are considered more environmentally friendly than PET because they can be reused and take less energy to produce. 

Pro: Can be recycled and reused. Once recycled, it’s repurposed into plastic crates, lumber, fencing. HDPE does not contain BPA, phthalates, heavy metals, or allergens.

Con: Made from virgin petroleum-based materials. 

 

Source: HDPE; what is it?

 

PCR Plastic (Post-Consumer Recycled)

Post-consumer recycled tubs use existing resources instead of new or virgin materials. These tubs are a great option, but due to COVID and other factors, the current supply has not caught up with demands, so although we’re actively exploring this, we’re unable to access the quantity of PCR materials we need at this time.

Pro: Recycled plastics require no “virgin” materials and can divert recycled materials from the landfill. 

Con: Current supply has not caught up with the current demand for all packaging types.

 

Glass Container

If you’ve ever dropped your cell phone, you know how delicate glass can be. It often breaks in shipping, creating a waste of both packaging and product. 

Pro: The biggest pro to using glass is that we can reuse it for various applications. A former glass peanut butter jar makes an excellent vessel for overnight oats. And glass mason jars make the perfect cup for iced coffee. 

Con: Very heavy to ship, which would increase the carbon footprint on shipping. 

 

Compostable or Recyclable Pouch

Great options! One we’ve explored in depth. The truth is, it doesn’t always stay sealed once opened and may require an inner liner for shelf stability and to prevent seepage (a real “yuck” of a word, but also “yuck” is having packaging materials seep into your protein powder). 

Pro: Less plastic (or none at all) and can degrade faster than other packaging types. 

Con: For some packaging, only specific components are compostable or recyclable; commonly, inks, dyes, and outer layers of packaging. However,  if the packaging has a plastic zipper closure or polyurethane inner liner, those components go to the landfill. Further, some packaging may only be compostable in an industrial compost environment. So while it is compostable, it has to be the right kind of compost. 

 

Biodegradable Tub

We created a 100% biodegradable container prototype, and this innovative project is a continued work in progress. 

Pro: Biodegradable products can be broken down into H2O, COs, and compost (by microorganisms and under the right conditions). The duration of this breakdown process varies. 

Con: Biodegradable protein packaging presents unique challenges, specifically with regards to performance, design, and shelf stability. 

For example: 

This package can’t have a screw-top lid because it will degrade too quickly with each cap turn, and alternate tops simply don’t provide the freshness protection needed. 

 

Ok, that’s all super helpful, but why do you use a plastic scoop?

Why not just skip the scoop altogether? The scoop provides you with accurate serving information by weight, so you know that the nutritional facts listed on the pack are what is in your scoop. 

Think of baking - if a recipe calls for “a pinch of salt,” how much are you adding? It’s much more accurate to say “1 tsp salt,” and you’re less likely to end up with salty cookies. 

There are options for scoops, though! As we continue to work on packaging innovation, we won’t forget the scoop. 

 

Why do you use a plastic neck-band safety seal?

Your safety is number one to us. We use this seal as an extra layer of safety. It also ensures that the lid doesn’t move in transit which may loosen the inner seal. Our Quality Assurance Team accesses production regularly and is constantly reviewing packaging, so while we use this as the best safety precaution, for now, we are open to and continue to explore options. 

We’re committed to sustainability and continue to research the best and scalable options. 

 

This Isn’t The End Of The Story. 

Sustainability and environmental impact are built into every decision we make. We’re committed to continuous effort and daily sustainability practices, and we continue to explore options for our packaging for both new and existing products. 

We’re committed to improving in the future and doing what we can to make an impact today. 

 

 

 

Our goal is plastic-free packaging by 2023. 

Follow along with us on our journey #NatreveNation

*Check with your location for a recycling depot or program to confirm.