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THE HARD FACTS AROUND THE PLASTIC REALITY: A Note from Arthi, the Founder’s Desk

Chances are, you are not a plastic fan. Neither are we. That brings to the table, one of the greatest dissonances we had to struggle with. Picking the right bottling material for STRIVE. We believe in a holistic process of wellness. It cannot be attained just by consuming the best possible protein for your body. It has to be good for the environment and the greater good for the society we work with.

As with everything we do, there was a considerable amount of discussion, debate, disagreement and coffee that went into this decision as well. When Edison finally settled with Tungsten as his material of choice for the filament on his light bulb, he arrived at the conclusion regarding 999 other materials that are unfit for the same. Similarly, we compared every possible material before we chose what we chose. Carefully curated together below are our findings.

Tetra pak

Entering the arena as the first competitor is the house favourite of beverages; Tetra pak. Much like Xerox, Tetra pak is a company and brand that has become eponymous with the whole industry. It’s hard to deny the versatility and ease of usage that tetra pak brings to the packaging of beverages.

Tetra pak is multilayered and consists of 75% paper, 20% PE and 5% aluminium. 59% of the paper used in Tetrapak comes from non-renewable sources.

Separation of layers of tetra pak and then recycling each layer in itself is not widely done. Even if we venture down a path of recycling, it requires highly evolved technology that renders the whole process quite redundant and inaccessible. One of the main attributes of Tetra Pak containers is asepsis. The resulting paper pulp from the recycling process cannot be reused in the production of new cartons; mostly due to present technology not being capable of the same. The end outcome being tetra paks ending up in landfills. In contrast, glass and plastic containers can both be largely reused for food and liquid packaging.

Tetra pak is making innovations with packs that are made from recycled materials and biodegradable to different extents. However, as a startup, our accessibility to that is limited by 3 major factors:

1. Lack of Co-manufacturers in India offering sustainable options.

2. Cost-effectiveness.

3. Capital investment required raises the entry barrier.

Glass

Glass is a classic packaging option. One of the first that humans invented when we needed to store and carry beverages. When it comes to recycling and reusing, glass only has 80% efficiency when being converted into new glass containers. While this is a high rate of re-usability, the process has a wildly disproportionate environmental impact. Large amounts of detergents, water and chemicals are required to ensure adequate cleaning (industrial scale) is achieved. Another factor is that re-usable containers need to be more robust than a single-use container, which means a thicker container that results in an increased amount of resources consumed (Williams, 2013). Glass degradation takes years whereas recycling of glass is high.

Glass made it to our final list. Considering the delivery reach we were aiming for:

  1. The weight and density of glass increases the carbon footprint involved in

    transportation.

  2. The fragility of the material renders it vulnerable to breakage in transit.

  3. Very limited co-manufacturing options.

We have put a pin on the idea, sure to revisit when we have a larger footprint and can opt to local manufacturing and distribution across the country.

Cans

Cans were made popular by the soft-drink companies and have become a staple presence across department stores, pharmacies and restaurants. Aluminium, the primary metal used for making cans, is refined from bauxite ore which is mined from the earth. Mining is a macro-level environmental and economic issue that leads to habitat loss, water contamination and heightened soil erosion. Aluminium production has twice the carbon footprint in comparison to glass production. Aluminium can be recycled any number of times without the worry of down-cycling. Aluminium is lightweight and weighs almost the same as plastic. However, due to their sturdy nature, they require less outer protective packaging and occupy lesser space during transportation and are better than glass.

We like the sporty, cool look of cans and also their robust nature. The issues we face for cans:

1. Limited Co manufacturing options
2. The high initial investment required to get the operation up and running.

Plastic

Plastic containers are formed from petroleum extracts. Hence there is environmental impact as petroleum is non-renewable. But, plastic is lightweight and performs the best in terms of carbon emission during transportation. Plastic also has lesser breakage and leakage issues in comparison to glass containers.

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION

For glass, it's 229 grams, for the plastic jug it's 75 grams, and for the TetraPak it's 8 grams of greenhouse gas emissions. It's not surprising that glass creates more emissions because it weighs more and there are higher raw material transportation emissions. Glass also has a higher melting point, requiring more energy to melt it.

Most surprising is that the emissions from producing the TetraPak are so low, but this benefit is counteracted by the inaccessibility and lack of sustainability in recycling the material. While we all are aware of the effects of plastic in the long-term, we fortunately also have access to quality recycling practices and partners who enable easy recycling of plastic bottles.

Recycling Plastic

You are never too old to learn how to Re-Cycle. Effective recycling is great for the planet. Here are a few quick tips on recycling dry waste, especially plastic. We trust Saahas, a sustainability and a re-cycling expert. They assist many people with understanding how and where to recycle effectively. You can reach out to Saahas or your nearest Dry Waste Collection Centre for more information. Here’s a quick 101 on recycling dry waste.

  1. Find your nearest DWCC (Dry Waste Collection Centre.)

  2. Wash, rinse and dry bottles or any kind of plastic packaging. This step is

    important. Any food particles left behind in the packaging can impact the

    recycling process adversely.

  3. Hand over your segregated dry waste to the nearest DWCCs or Kasa Rasa

    (Managed by Saahas).

  4. You can motivate the association of your residential complex to partner with an empanelled vendor like Saahas Zero Waste to manage their waste.

Our shakes are designed to be 100% guilt-free. You can make them truly guilt-free by recycling your bottles. We partner with experts and organisations in driving sustainability. Your segregated dry waste can be handed over to the nearest DWCCs (Dry waste collection centre). Every ward in your city should have one DWCC managed by the local civic body.

Holler at us if you need help in finding your nearest DWCC.

 

Arthi, Founder

On Behalf of the STRIVE Team

www.strive.store

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