In our oceans right now there are 500 times more pieces of plastic than there are stars in our galaxy (1). We find plastic pollution all around us and yet very little is known about its effects on the environment and our health (2). This reality makes it clear that our traditional ways of managing our plastic, like using municipal curbside recycling programs, isn’t working as well as we thought it did. In fact, recent research on Canada’s curbside recycling programs found that high rates of contamination (for example, when non-recyclable material is added in your blue bin) is greatly decreasing the amount of packaging actually getting recycled (3). It’s time that retailers and vendors stepped up and redefined what role they play in responsible packaging.
Finding Solutions That Work
At Spud, we believe that we are responsible for the packaging that we put out into the world. So we looked at how we could expand our use of reusable packaging and our Packaging Recycling program, and after months of research and development, we are proud to announce the launch of our ReFresh initiative! The aim of this initiative is not only to drastically reduce Spud’s packaging waste but also to support our customers who seek to minimize waste and to inspire our vendors to take greater responsibility for their packaging. The ReFresh initiative will launch various programs over the next few months related to packaging waste reduction, with the first being our Pink Bag Takeback program.
The Pink Bag Takeback Program
This program aims to tackle single-use flexible plastic that is not accepted by curbside recycling programs. To start, we are focusing on our Be Fresh products that are sold in these hard to recycle plastic pouches. These flexible pouches are extremely popular, found in many grocery stores, because they are light-weight and easy to reseal to help keep food fresh, however we will be the first retailer who will be asking for them back.
How It Works
Starting February 21st, Spud is taking full responsibility for our packaging by asking customers to give back their Be Fresh pink bags so we can recycle them for you. In order to do this, we are expanding our partnership with Terracycle, a specialized recycling company who already recycles the gloves we use in our warehouse. Our Be Fresh bags will be turned into new products like paving stones and outdoor furniture! So the next time you buy any of Be Fresh’s pink pouch products, please return it in your Spud bin or to any Be Fresh or Blush Lane location, and we will handle the rest! We are super excited about how the Pink Bag Takeback program will dramatically reduce Spud’s packaging waste, but we’re even more excited about how this program is first of many under the ReFresh initiative which will continue to demonstrate to our vendors and other retailers a re-imagined role they can play responsible packaging.
1. “Plastic Pollution- Facts and Figures.” Surfers Against Sewage. https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/
3. Chung, Emily. “Many Canadians are recycling wrong, and it’s costing us millions,” CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/recycling-contamination-1.4606893
This Post Has 2 Comments
We’ve been chatting about this on the Zero Waste Vancouver and agree that sending the bags to TerraCycle is much better than to the Vancouver Landfill; however, any reason why you didn’t go with reusable bags? We realize the theft problem with the pilot mesh bags; however, why not add a deposit to the bags like with glass milk bottles?
Hey, thank you for your comments! Our mission is always to move towards a reusable alternative, but we want to improve the way we manage single-use packaging in the meantime. We chose flexible packaging to begin with because its resealable (which can help minimize food waste) and it is light-weight (which lowers its environmental impact related to transportation). These characteristics, as well as because it is a convenient way to take snacks on-the-go, is why flexible packaging has become such a popular method of packaging food. Further, the aim of this takeback program is larger than just us as one retailer looking to reduce waste. We hope that this program will inspire other vendors and retailers to take greater responsibility for their packaging by being shown how its done and what is possible!
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