Plastic is one of the defining environmental issues of our time. From the uptick in plastic bag bans to national coffee chains encouraging the use of reusable cups, conversations around plastic have moved from fringe to the mainstream.
At Bowery, sustainability is at the heart of all that we do, which may lead one to ask: what’s with the plastic clamshells? Good Question. When choosing packaging, our team painstakingly reviewed all options on the market, from plant-based materials to closed loop reusable options. With all of them, we weighed a few key factors:
- Does the material make sense for our product?
- Do we know the material is safe?
- How sustainable is the material over its entire lifespan?
Plastic is the widely accepted industry standard for a perishable product that must safely sit on the shelf for several days. But because we’re never ones to accept the status quo, we set out to find better options.
The obvious first step was to explore compostables. But while this material has promise, we quickly learned that many of these containers include harmful chemicals with no known halflife. And the majority of municipalities did not have the infrastructure in place to compost them correctly.
We then looked elsewhere for a solution, turning to innovative materials such as mushroom-based packaging. While these materials are beginning to gain traction in packaging for furniture and other objects, manufacturers have not yet been able to create a version that is food safe.
Back to Plastic
This brought us back to plastic, specifically post-consumer recycled plastics. To minimize our impact from start to finish, we’ve partnered with a best-in-class clamshell manufacturer in this space, Placon. We’ve also designed our packaging with clear instructions to help ensure they are recycled properly.
The Journey to Zero Plastic
Plastic is our current reality, but we are constantly working to further reduce our usage. In spring 2022, Bowery launched a new, flexible film, peel-and-reseal lidded clamshell. This dramatically reduces plastic vs. our rigid plastic packaging by a total of 45%. The new packs include a 100% recycled tray, made from two recycled water bottles, with a flexible peel-and-reseal top.
Flex Film is just one step forward on our sustainability journey to reduce (and eventually eliminate) plastic from our packaging. In addition, we are focused on improving the circularity of packaging. That means keeping packaging out of landfill and in the circular economy through recycling.
How You Can Support a Circular Economy
Over 90% of American households have access to recycling, according to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (compared to about 11% of Americans with access to composting facilities that accept packaging). You can make a difference by recycling thoughtfully.
Proper disposal and recycling is an important step for the health of our planet. Ensure your tray is successfully recycled by checking with your local municipality to understand recycling guidelines. And check https://berecycled.org/search/ to make sure you’re doing what you can to divert waste from landfills in your municipality.
Our new Flex Film tops represent another step forward, reducing plastic by 45% in each clamshell. We don’t accept this as a perfect solution, just the one that makes the most holistic sense for right now. We are committed to the continued reduction, and eventually elimination, of plastic from our packaging.
Our team continues to research and test alternatives, and you can help! Changes to infrastructure often spring from public demand. Having an impact can be as simple as reaching out to your town’s elected officials about composting. Here are a few ways you can advocate for composting in your area.
When more cities and towns embrace composting programs, more companies can responsibly embrace compostable plastic alternatives, knowing those materials won’t end up in a landfill. Thank you for supporting our company as we continue to improve our sustainability practices.