Why Compostable Packaging for JOI Oat Milk Powder?
We’re all trying to make the small changes to be more eco-friendly. For us at JOI, those changes start with our packaging. That's why we've rolled out something we are pretty proud of—our Organic Oat Milk Powder hit shelves as the first ever dairy alternative in fully compostable packaging.
Has it ever hit you just how much packaging you go through in a day? The take-out coffee cup that jumpstarts your morning, the plastic packaging from your granola bar snack (not to mention the box it came out of), the single use plastics container for your take-out lunch, the padded mailing packet your latest online shopping find arrives at your doorstep in - all of this adds up quick to a lot of garbage. JOI wants to be part of the solution.
How Can JOI be part of the Solution?
This reality is something that’s been nagging at our team since JOI was founded. From the beginning, we’ve designed our plant base products to minimize environmental impact. We focused on using whole foods for our raw materials to eliminate any food waste. We created a concentrate so that everyone could improve their carbon footprint.
When we were just getting started in 2015, it was difficult (especially as a cash-strapped start up) to find packaging options made of materials other than plastic (though we did insist on recyclable packaging!).
Since then, technology has taken huge leaps forward, and we are working to transition all of our packaging to materials that are appropriate for our different products: ultra-sustainable, reusable packaging.
This means we’re rolling out something we are pretty proud of—our new Organic Oat Milk Powder is hitting shelves as the first ever dairy alternative in fully compostable packaging. And no, we have no shame about making that humble brag.
Enter Compostable Packaging!
What does ‘Compostable’ really mean?
...Competent and reliable scientific evidence that all the materials in the item will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner (i.e., in approximately the same time as the materials with which it is composted) in an appropriate composting facility, or in a home compost pile or device.
Packaging manufacturer Eco Packaging Solutions breaks it down in additional detail:
Compostable packaging is packaging that when left in the environment will decay into beneficial biomass; carbon-based organic molecules that contain hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and, unlike conventional forms of packaging, no toxic chemicals or harmful particles which can end up seeping back into our soils, waterways or airways. What compostable packaging will leave behind, however, which traditional types of packaging do not, is nutrient-rich humus; black, jelly-like organic matter that improves the health of our soils and strengthens ecosystems.
In laymans’ terms, if it’s compostable, it’s able to quickly and completely (under the right environmental conditions) disintegrate into something non-toxic and totally natural, which you can then dump in your garden to make your plants extra happy.
What material is compostable packaging made from?
In order to quickly and completely disintegrate, compostable packaging must be made from natural and organic materials. Most commonly, this means a combo of recycled and virgin natural, plant-based substances like corn starch, wood pulp, or sugarcane. Some compostable packaging is also made from bio-based thermoplastics, which are derived from renewable vegetable crops rather than the non-renewable fossil fuels like oil and petroleum conventional plastics are produced with.
Common Misconceptions About Compostable Packaging
What good is compostable material if you have no means to compost it? Well, not much, honestly, since your local landfill does not provide the appropriate conditions to break down compostable materials.
The good news though is that composting is a lot easier than you might think--and no, you don’t need acreage to get started. There are efficient backyard composters, as well ultra-compact kitchen composting systems that allow you to dispose of your organics in a sustainable way, even when you’re super-tight on space.
Just note, some of these small indoor units are purely designed for organic kitchen scraps, and do not support composting of bio-plastics and other manufactured compostable packaging.
If you’re perusing the green food products market, chances are you’ll come across no shortage of products that market themselves as ‘biodegradable and compostable’. But, make sure you do your research, because those terms are not interchangeable. Everything compostable is biodegradable, but just because something is biodegradable does not mean it’s compostable.
As we’ve already discussed, compostable materials--under the right conditions--disintegrate back into the natural environment completely, in a timely manner, leaving no toxic residue behind.
Biodegradable materials, on the other hand, while able to be consumed by bacteria, fungi, and other living microorganisms in order to be returned to the natural environment, don’t have to break down within a specific timeframe, and in the process, may leave behind harmful waste material like microplastics.
Recycling is all about reuse; composting is all about decomposition. So, tossing that compostable package in the recycling bin is not a valid alternative to composting. In fact, compostable plastics disrupt commercial recycling streams by forcing the recycling plant to take an extra step of sorting them out--leading to more waste, and defeating the purpose of both endeavors. And just to clarify, same story with your kitchen scraps. Compostable ≠ recyclable!
Have you caught that little caveat we’ve mentioned about compostable materials decomposing in the right environmental conditions? Yeah, landfills aren’t it. That’s because landfills are designed to store trash, not break it down. Landfills lack oxygen, a vital component of the decomposition process. Without oxygen, compostable and biodegradable materials (from food scraps to the bioplastics that make up compostable packaging) sit in a limbo state, releasing the harmful greenhouse gas methane without actually breaking down. All that methane is a big-time contributor to global warming--and seriously avoidable by keeping compostables out of the trash bin.
Basing your shopping list on packaging sustainability is a great approach--but be careful to read the labels. Much compostable packaging is designed specifically for commercial composting facilities. Always do your research to make sure that products in your pantry or fridge are safe for home compost.
How to start composting at home
Have we sold you on making composting part of your environmentally conscious routine? Good, because getting started is easy.
More and more cities and waste disposal companies are offering composting programs. So, step one, regardless of your living situation, is to check in with your waste management provider and see if they offer a composting program. These may be pick up programs, where you simply sign up, pick up your provider-issued compost bin, and start collecting your household compostables in one of the many covered compost bins designed specifically for indoor spaces (don’t forget the compostable can liners too!).
If your provider doesn’t have a composting program, check out this site for a comprehensive list of industrial composters in North America by region.
If you’ve got to go the DIY route, don’t be intimidated! Composting at home is easy to do, and there are multiple approaches. Keep it simple with a basic backyard compost pile, check out one of the many plastic storage systems available, or get fancy with a vermicomposting system. You can put as much time and energy into your composting system as you want.
Once you’ve landed on the right composting methodology for you, it’s time to go shopping (or maybe get in the workshop). You can go all in on a fully DIY compost bin, or choose from one of the many indoor and outdoor bins on the market.
There is a method to the madness of composting, especially when you’ve got a backyard set up going. The key is finding the right ratio of ‘browns and greens’. ‘Browns’ are carbon-rich dry materials like leaves, grass clippings, and yes--compostable packaging that is safe for home-composting. ‘Greens’ are those denser, wetter materials like food scraps that add nitrogen. The optimal mix of brown and green layers promotes quick, efficient decomposition and leaves you with super juicy, nutrient rich compost.
You’ve put in the time and your at-home compost system has reached that ‘black gold’ stage of a smooth texture, sweet forest-like smell, and super dark color. Now what? Make your compost work for you! Use it as mulch, for potting soil, as a ‘tea’ for your plants, and so much more. Your neighbors will be blown away by your plant and landscape game.
Join our Movement!
Ready to make the switch to the most sustainable oat milk out there? Order your JOI Organic Oat Milk Powder today, or check our other delicious AND Earth-friendly JOI plant bases, all available for easy delivery right to your doorstep.