LOOP Mission: The conscious (and eco-friendly) choice of plastic
As circular economy and food waste are at the core of this company's business model: LOOP Mission transforms the outcasts of the food industry into juice, alcoholic beverages, dog treats, etc. But how does a company with such a strong environmental vocation make the conscious decision to package its juice in... plastic containers?
That question can't be answered by a mere slogan or in a tweet. Contrary to popular belief, using a PET bottle doesn't go against the environmental values embraced by the company's founders, Julie Poitras-Saulnier and David Côté.
LOOP Mission has done its homework
The reason that some consumers feel there is a disconnect between the LOOP Mission's values and the containers they use is that plastic gets really bad press. And yet, the company's co-founder, Julie Poitras-Saulnier, who has a Master's degree in Environmental Sciences, would never have chosen that material without doing in-depth research first.
Plastic: The Big Bad Wolf?
Initially, three types of containers were considered to bottle LOOP Mission's juices: the PET bottle, the aluminium bottle and the glass bottle. To Julie Poitras-Saulnier's great surprise, an in-depth scientific magazine report revealed that to meet marketing constraints for her cold-pressed juices, the PET plastic bottle actually had the lowest environmental impact. Indeed, those containers have a high recovery rate in Quebec, as well as a high resale value for recycling.
These conclusions are based on life cycle analysis, an internationally recognized approach that aims to establish the full environmental impact chart for specific packaging, from acquiring raw materials to manufacturing, transportation, use and end-of-life management. This global vision helps companies see all the steps that generate GHGs and make the most well-informed decisions possible when selecting packaging.
#1 PET (a.k.a. Polyethylene Terephthalate)
When marketing any product, each material that goes into the packaging has its share of advantages and drawbacks. All products are different and must be analyzed based on their nature and the company's operations.
At LOOP Mission, right from the start, we were looking to market large volumes of cold-pressed juice with a shelf life of several days - to avoid waste, quite obviously! The rigorous ecodesign process for LOOP Mission's packaging means we can meet those goals, while reducing the environmental impact to a minimum.
How? By choosing PET plastic, LOOP Mission can source its requirements in Quebec or from neighbouring markets. No less than 76% of this material is locally repurposed by Quebec processors. By comparison, food-grade glass, which is necessary to preserve juices, currently comes mainly from China.
Although reduction at the source should still be consumers' preferred choice, those who choose a #1 PET plastic container have no reason to feel guilty. When properly recovered, it will be recycled and transformed right here in Quebec into new bottles or containers, carpets, polar fleece, filling for clothing, cushions, mattresses, and so many more possibilities!
Always aim for improvement!
Improving the environmental impact of packaging should be a priority companies learn to master by applying a logic of continual improvement. For LOOP Mission, that perspective is alive and well as their bottles now integrate 50% recycled resin into their content.
"Adding recycled resin to a container's material means it has a greyish tint and loses its transparency. For sure, that means our very bright-coloured juices end up looking quite a bit less appetizing - it has to be said. Starting with 50% recycled resin will help us assess consumers' acceptance of the change and, who knows, maybe even end up marketing a 100% recycled PET bottle, if the experience works well."
- Julie Poitras-Saulnier, co-founder of LOOP Mission.
Don't knock it, learn more about it
Environmental questions are complex, and it's important to take the entire issue into account in order to make the best choices. As totally perfect solutions rarely exist, seeking information from our favourite brand manufacturers to find out more about their process (or absence thereof) regarding packaging ecodesign is often a very revealing exercise.
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