Flexible plastic pouches make our favorite foods and beverages more convenient, portable and easy to enjoy. They reseal and zip, tear and pour, and keep products fresh for longer, at home and in store. In some ways, they’re even good for the environment, cutting down on CO2 emissions released during production and transport by using an average of 60% less plastic and being 23% lighter than traditional packaging.
They also take up less space in a landfill, which is where most plastic pouches end up. Food and beverage pouches, made of layers of plastic, aluminum or paper, are not accepted for recycling through municipal public programs. Because the materials themselves require separating, it costs too much to collect and process these items—more than what recyclers can sell them for.
By this measure, most of today’s most common waste streams are considered difficult to recycle and do not belong in your blue bin for curbside pickup. But with Americans projected to use 92 billion pouches this year, the little space they take up in landfills adds up quickly, and turns into greenhouse gas and chemical release as they very slowly break down. As more companies use pouches for their packaging, this issue increasingly impacts our environment.
Ahead of the curve, Bear Naked® put forth the time, money and resources towards a solution long before the pouch pollution problem was top news. The brand this year celebrates 10 years recycling their typically unrecyclable granola bags through TerraCycle, engaging consumers to divert waste from landfills and earn points that can be redeemed for cash donations to non-profits or schools. Collectors have raised more than $27,000 in charitable donations.
The Bear Naked® Recycling Program launched in 2008 to consumers nationwide, offering access to a free, easy to use recycling solution for the granola and snack bags for the first time. Bear Naked is TerraCycle’s second longest standing brand partner for the sponsored-waste platform and bases its business model on creativity and transparency, taking responsibility for the end-of-life of its packaging.
Everything is technically recyclable, but whether a product or package gets recycled depends on: access, participation, separation and end markets. The Bear Naked® Recycling Program works around the limitations of the public system to provide consumers free access to nationwide solution for a common item, engaging them to participate.
Since only Bear Naked packaging is collected through the program, the material is separated and easier to process. TerraCycle then sells the collected plastic for use in new products, ensuring the end market for the recycled material. So for 10 years, Bear Naked packaging has been saved from landfills, able to come back as products such as park benches, garden beds and playgrounds.
The Bear Naked® Recycling Program is open to any individual, school or organization interested in reducing local landfill waste. To learn more, please visit https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/bear-naked-brigade-r