the truth about the recycling industry

Better Packaging for A Better Wild

The wild: our safe space, the grand playground for which we feel most at home in, a source of escape from the mundane and restraining ways of the world. As lovers of the wild, we’ve long been searching for a way to lessen our impact and give back to the space that fills us with deep, unimaginable joy. 

To lessen our impact on the environment, this meant big changes to the way we do things here at Wildway. Though we can’t get rid of packaging completely, we can go about it in a more ethical way by prioritizing the needs of the environment. The journey of researching and testing one form of packaging after another has been an eye-opening one. We want to unveil the truth behind recycled and compostable materials, as well as the entire recycling industry that we have learned along the way through trial and error, and countless hours of research. It’s a burden we have to bear and a solution we are desperately striving to unearth and implement.

The Hard Truth About Recycling.

The recycling industry has lied to us. Perhaps the issue was brought to our attention when we were struck with the news that we could no longer ship off our junk elsewhere to be someone else’s problem. This isn’t just now a problem, it’s always been a problem, only now are we forced to look it in the face and find better solutions that should have been put into practice long ago. 

Let’s start by going straight to the source, this nation’s oil and gas companies. These wildly profitable and industry-controlling companies are the makers of the very plastic we have been told is the solution to the waste problem we face, all we have to do is recycle! Only now that we are faced with the issue of trying to recycle all of the plastic waste we produce do we realize the lies  big oil and gas are feeding us: it is more expensive to recycle than it is to throw the plastic waste into landfills just as we do with every other piece of trash. 

Millions of dollars have been poured into leading the nation to believe that recycling is the superior solution, the savior of the environment; however, all along big oil and gas companies knew what we didn’t, that this solution was nothing but a dead end.

The issue with recycling is simple: every piece of used plastic can be reused to create new things; however, the process of collecting, sorting, and melting is beyond expensive. To top it off, the quality of plastic diminishes each time it is reused, thus it can’t be reused more than once or twice. Good news for the oil and gas industry who make plastic, creating new plastic is far cheaper and the outcome is better quality than reused. 

For years companies have implemented marketing strategies that use misleading and deceptive language to influence consumers into believing all recycled material is in fact recycled. In reality only  8.4% of recycled materials were actually recycled in 2017, the rest were sent to landfills to be buried in the earth. 

Greenwashing tactics used by big business such as recyclable and barely compostable packaging are only used to appeal to consumers rather than the actual environment.

The truth behind the “recyclable” packaging used by most companies, is it’s hardly recyclable. What many don’t realize is the complexity of the plastic collection process; the numbers near the recycling symbol on packaging indicates the type of plastic it is, and this can determine where and how it gets recycled. Most municipalities do not have the facilities and equipment to recycle the plastics we are sending their way. 

It is possible to research recycling facilities that will properly see your plastics through the recycling process, but this could mean having to mail your items to such facilities. Now that we’ve added in methods of transportation, how is that affecting carbon emissions that pollute the air? 

So what happens to the plastics you throw in your bin believing they’re being recycled? The sad truth is that a vast majority are being thrown into landfills along with everything else. This is why we won’t join other companies who use “recyclable” packaging. We love our granola-loving fans and we love the wild; we are not going to sacrifice one to appeal to the other. 

The hard truth is, if a true and legitimate solution existed, everyone who claimed to be environmentally friendly would be practicing it. 

Why the Solution Isn’t X, Y, or Z...

We’ve mulled over dozens upon dozens of potential solutions modeled by other businesses, recommended by our granola-loving audience, and wild ideas we came up with. In the end, they all came to be dead ends right alongside recycling. 

a. Recyclable plastic - an obvious ‘no’ for all of the reasons explained in the previous section. We’re not going to play into a broken industry for sake of appearing more attractive to customers who have been misled by strategic marketing. Until plastics can be efficiently and ethically recycled, we aren’t doing it.

b. Compostable packing - short answer, it simply won’t work with Wildway’s product. 

Long answer, what makes compostable packaging compostable is its ability to allow oxygen, heat, and moisture to penetrate the packaging to foster the degradation process. This is no good for a food company, especially one who uses natural and real ingredients that, when exposed to oxygen, would spoil more quickly.  

Secondly, when disposed of improperly, some compostable packaging can be broken down into microplastics that leach into our water, soil, and inevitably, the foods we put into our bodies. 

Lastly, compostable packaging isn’t 100% compostable if the ink and adhesive used aren’t also compostable and environmentally friendly. Many businesses use compostable packaging as a marketing tactic, but  fail to acknowledge the other components that make the packaging incapable of being compostable. 

c. Reusable packaging - not plastic, but rather glass jars and other permanent forms of packaging we would send to customers and they would send back to us to refill. Sure, we would reduce plastic emission, but at the cost of carbon emissions. Our carbon emissions would significantly increase with all of the shipping back and forth between  our customers and our warehouse; is that any better for the environment? We have to say no.

What We’re Trying to Do for the Wild We Love.

The best solution we have in the present moment : post-consumer recycled plastics. What are post-consumer recycled plastics? They are plastics that have already been used and can be used once more before reaching the end of their life. We are pursuing post-consumer recycled plastics as a means to extend the life of plastics before they reach the landfill. By doing so, we can get one more use from plastics instead of contributing more single-use plastics to landfills.

While we can’t single-handedly fix the recycling industry, we are doing our part to lessen our contribution to the problem. We are investing in better solutions in the hopes of creating a ripple effect among other businesses to gradually increase demand for better recyclable plastic packaging options.

There isn’t yet a perfect solution to the problem our industry faces, but we are taking a step in the right direction by appealing to the well-being and integrity of the wild, not just that of the consumer. In fact, taking these steps is an increased financial investment. We are paying more to do what is right.

This is only the beginning of a lifetime of trying to do better by the planet, our one and only home.