Michael: “Sadly, plastic has become synonymous with single-use packaging. Many consumers are tired of this kind of packaging, and frustrated by the terminal outcome of waste—but to see plastic as an enemy to our environment is one-sided and doesn’t address the root cause of the problem.
In order to make plastic, you typically have to pull from natural resources, like petroleum, which is taxing on the environment. That’s what most people may think of when they think of plastic: waste, pollution, oil—all of which make sense. But that perspective doesn’t necessarily take into account the whole picture.
The onus is ultimately on the brands to educate consumers on how to properly dispose of their packaging and to choose packaging that isn’t designed to fall apart after one use; when feasible, brands should leverage mono-material plastic packaging that the majority of recycling centers will accept, like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), or polypropylene (PP). It is also incumbent on the brands to develop the packaging so it can be reused or repurposed. Being mindful about these considerations can have an impact.
At Ritual, all of our plastic multivitamin bottles are created using 100% recycled materials. As we think about the cumulative impact of plastic packaging that’s created only to be thrown away—and the use of crude oil or natural gas for virgin plastic—it became clear that, in this case, embracing recycled plastic was a good alternative.
One of the primary purposes of packaging is to protect products from water, oxygen, and/or light—three major properties that can impact the efficacy of any formula. When it comes to our packaging philosophy, a key priority is ensuring our formulas maintain their stability through the targeted shelf life. We determine what packaging formats will meet this objective on a case-by-case basis, working with the suppliers and their constraints (including what materials are commercially available). For example, our protein powders are packaged in a multi-laminated gusseted bag, which at the time presented the best option for our formula.”
The essential takeaway? Don’t assume all plastic is bad, for one! Do some digging to see what brands have put thought behind their packaging decisions, and reach out to them if you have questions regarding a certain material and the decision behind using it. “At Ritual, all of our multivitamins are housed in clear bottles created using 100% recycled materials,” says Michael, noting that most things need to be larger than 2x2 inches to be recycled.