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  • Earth Day 2024: Driving Positive Environmental Change

    As Earth Day 2024 draws near, we find ourselves standing at a critical crossroads in our mission to safeguard the future of our planet. While concerns about environmental limits weigh heavily on our minds, there are reasons for optimism amidst the challenges we face. This year's Earth Day isn't just about recognizing the precarious state of our environment; it's about embracing positive change and sustainable solutions. This year’s Earth Day is particularly pertinent as the theme is Planet Vs. Plastics. EARTHDAY.ORG is demanding a 60% reduction in all plastic production by 2040. The copious amounts of plastics produced every day cause damage to all facets of the environment: human, atmospheric, and terrestrial/marine ecosystem health. The urgency of Earth Day 2024 is underscored by the multitude of environmental challenges we confront – from climate change and habitat destruction to pollution and biodiversity loss. The concept of environmental thresholds looms large, serving as a stark reminder of the limits to our planet's resilience. Yet, amid these daunting challenges, signs of progress and resilience offer hope for the future. Despite the grim environmental headlines, there are encouraging developments to celebrate. The remarkable growth of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power provides clean alternatives to fossil fuels. In fact, the world’s renewable energy capacity grew 50% more in 2023 than the previous year and is expected to continue to increase. Concurrently, conservation efforts are yielding promising results, with endangered species staging comebacks in protected habitats. These positive changes highlight the power of collective action and underscore the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Furthermore, a notable trend is emerging among major corporations towards sustainability practices that extend beyond their direct operations. Companies are now actively tracking emissions across their entire supply chains and customer usage, not just their direct activities (Scope 1 emissions). This comprehensive approach enables businesses to gain insights into their environmental impact and identify areas for improvement. Sustainable packaging companies like Cruz Foam, Sway The Future, Erthos, Woola Packaging, and others play a pivotal role in assisting corporations to track and reduce emissions outside of their direct company footprint (Scope 3 emissions). By providing innovative and eco-friendly packaging solutions, these companies facilitate progress towards sustainability goals while addressing the environmental footprint of product life cycles. Eco-friendly packaging plays a vital role in reducing Scope 3 emissions for corporations. These solutions contribute to emission reduction through sustainable sourcing, manufacturing processes, transportation efficiency, and end-of-life management. By prioritizing recyclability, compostability, or biodegradability, eco-friendly packaging minimizes environmental impact throughout the product lifecycle. On an individual level, consumers have the power to drive change through their purchasing decisions. Supporting brands that prioritize eco-friendly practices across their operations, from choosing products that use environmentally friendly ingredients in their product, to choosing brands that use sustainable packaging solutions,consumers hold more power than they may realize. When consumers work to reduce their environmental footprint with their purchasing decisions they also support broader conservation efforts. While major corporations and policymakers bear significant responsibility for addressing environmental challenges, consumer choices play a pivotal role in shaping industry practices. By demanding sustainable alternatives, consumers drive positive change across supply chains. As we mark Earth Day 2024, let us acknowledge the gravity of environmental challenges while embracing the potential for positive change. Through informed decisions, advocacy for sustainability, and conscious consumption, each of us can contribute to a healthier planet. Despite the obstacles ahead, collective efforts offer hope for a brighter, more sustainable future. Together, let us navigate the thresholds of environmental limits and forge a path towards a greener tomorrow.

  • Battling Plastic Pollution: Rethink Cleanup Investments

    Posted on 29 March 2024 By Hoiyin Ip, Al Sattler and Bill Lane Sierra Club - Los Angeles Chapter View the Full Story Here 'The rainstorms continue to turn the ocean into a dumping ground, inundating it with a deluge of trash, including a lot of single-use plastics that should have never been produced in the first place. “I’d like to put a water wheel in every river that flows into the ocean in the state of California. . . We have to stop this trash,” said Assemblymember Diane Dixon, whose resolve stems from experience. Since 2016, as a Newport Beach councilmember and then an Assemblymember, she and the city worked hard on a plan to install a trash interceptor in the San Diego Creek to capture the trash flowing down from Irvine. The operation is expected to start by December. This $5.5 million project could not be possible without various grants from the state and county, including $1.68 million from Ocean Protection Council in 2018 (with support from the American Chemistry Council), $500,000 from Orange County Transportation Authority in 2020, and $1.6 million from California Department of Water Resources in 2023. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for a problem caused by the plastic and fossil fuel industries? This also begs the question: Why prioritize such a costly cleanup project over reducing trash at the source? Newport Beach understands the concern. In 2017, some of us were invited to join the city to research and draft bans on single-use plastic bags, balloons and foodware. But in 2022, the city council ignored the California Coastal Commission's request to adopt the bans. Unfortunately, upstream, the Irvine city council also chose not to approve a proposed plastics ban due to opposition by a coalition of industry groups including the California Chamber of Commerce. ExxonMobil, the No.1 contributor to single-use plastic waste generation according to The Plastic Waste Makers Index, disclosed their lobbying expenditures of at least $1 million to the American Chemistry Council and at least $5,000 to the California Chamber of Commerce. With legislative roadblocks existing both upstream and downstream, the trash interceptor is likely the sole solution to mitigate the influx of ocean-bound trash in the near future. But amid the prevailing challenges, progress in plastics reduction initiatives is evident within the Angeles Chapter area. Since 2019, the County of Los Angeles has partnered with The Ocean Cleanup for a trash interceptor in the Ballona Creek, joined a growing number of cities and counties that require reusable foodware, and received $417,125 from the Ocean Protection Council to implement its plastic ban. Between now and April 26, the City of Los Angeles is seeking public comments for its Comprehensive Plastics Reduction Program. If you live or work in the city, please participate in the public meetings on April 4 or 6, and provide comments to support the city’s effort. If you live in a city that is not taking action to combat the pervasive influence of Big Plastic and Big Oil, don’t lose hope. Join us for the statewide efforts. If your Assemblymembers or Senators are on the committees that will hear the following bills soon, please ask them to vote YES. Earth Day themed “Planet vs. Plastics” calls for meaningful change. By reducing single-use plastic consumption, not only can we alleviate the financial burden of cleanups but also redirect resources towards improving environmental justice and a healthier planet.' Check out more Here

  • The Environmental Impact of Meal Kit Packaging Waste

    If you always find yourself stuck in the grind of meal preps and grocery store runs, meal kits can be your modern-day fix. Just sign up, and presto, you get pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes sent straight to your doorstep. For the kitchen-shy, there are also "heat-and-eat" subscriptions. These options make eating yummy and nutritious foods quick and easy, even for those with limited time or cooking abilities. In short, meal kits provide awesome benefits both for consumers and business owners. However, there’s a downside to this—the increasing amount of meal kit packaging waste. The Rise of Meal Kits in Modern Consumer Culture The meal kit industry is booming, with global sales of $20.54B in 2022 and a projected +15.3% CAGR up to 2030. In the United States, the outlook is also positive, with the 2023 US market revenue of $7.64B expected to reach $10.2B by 2024. Three distinct factors fueled this growth. One is the convenience-driven habits of the modern generation. Next is the pandemic, which pushed more people towards healthier, home-cooked alternatives when many restaurants closed. The third reason is a big draw: meal kits effectively tackle food waste at the home level. Unlike traditional grocery shopping, which often results in unnecessary purchases and food wastage, meal kits deliver just what's needed. A study on Blue Apron revealed that the US meal kit company's operations led to 62% less food waste at its facility and by its customers compared to meals prepared with grocery-bought ingredients. However, there seems to be a contradiction. Although they’re supposed to deliver environmental benefits, the heavy reliance of meal kits on plastics raises serious sustainability concerns. For instance, Home Chef, one of the four major meal kit providers in the US, uses 90% plastic for its packaging. So, how does all this impact the environment? Let's first look at the types of packaging used for food kits. What Are the Types of Meal Kit Packaging? Meal kit companies must use different packages or types of packaging to keep products fresh and safe while in transit. These include insulation materials and corrugated boxes for external protection. They also use void-fill paper, bubble bags, and cushioning to protect fragile ingredients like eggs from shock and vibration. However, not all of these are recyclable or easily disposed of. For instance, food kits use ice packs to keep things cold. But these often contain a gel made from sodium polyacrylate, a super-absorbent polymer from fossil fuels that isn't biodegradable. This means ice packs can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Food kit companies recommend removing the gel and depositing the plastic bag at specific drop-off locations in the US that accept recyclable plastics. The disposal process is so complex that local recycling programs often hesitate to accept insulation materials. Then there's the issue of excessive packaging. The boxes that safeguard products during transportation generate cardboard waste because of the large number of deliveries. LDPE-based protective liners and plastic packets separating individual ingredients make matters worse. LDPE is low-density polyethylene, a highly flexible and durable plastic that can easily jam recycling machines. To break these plastics into smaller pieces, you need special equipment that many recycling facilities lack. The combination of toxic complex recycling, excessive packaging, and the need for specialized equipment adds up to significant amounts of meal kit packaging waste. The Environmental Toll of Meal Kit Packaging Waste Let's unpack the damage that meal kit packaging waste can wreak on the environment by looking at its supply chain. The process starts with the extraction of raw materials and continues through the energy-intensive manufacturing of packaging. Then, the materials and final products require shipping, resulting in transportation emissions that contribute to a sizable carbon footprint. Much of the packaging isn't recyclable, meaning it's destined for landfills. There, it can take hundreds of years to decompose, filling up valuable space. As this waste accumulates, its chemicals leach, contaminating the soil. Meanwhile, the packaging at the landfills slowly breaks down, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. This cranks up the temperature and harms air quality. But it doesn't end there. Plastic waste eventually makes its way into the oceans, releasing toxic substances like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Marine animals can ingest the toxins and get sick, or they can get entangled in the plastic waste, leading to drowning and death. Additionally, plastics can break down into microplastics, seeping into waterways. This can affect a wide range of marine organisms and wildlife and, ultimately, bioaccumulate to circle back to us at the top of the food chain. Strategic Solutions for Meal Kit Companies All roads point to the urgent need for greener industry practices. Fortunately, your meal kit company or business can readily adopt these sustainable solutions: 1. Transition to recyclable materials Explore packaging materials that are easily recyclable, such as cardboard and paper-based products. You can source these from leading sustainable packaging companies. For instance, Cruz Foam offers Eco Vino™, a one-of-a-kind eco-friendly  wine shipping product made from 100% recyclable corrugated boxes and  bioengineered with Cruz Foam, made from 70% upcycled food waste. With repurposable products like Eco Vino™, you help dial back the negative impact of what we do to the environment whenever we use new raw materials. 2. Collaborate with recycling facilities Partner with recycling facilities to check out options for recycling non-traditional materials, such as ice packs. This collaboration helps divert more meal kit packaging waste from landfills and promotes a more viable approach to waste management. 3. Leverage eco-friendly insulation materials Produce meal kits with biodegradable packaging that provide thermal protection but less environmental impact. Switch to insulation materials made from compostable sources, such as repurposed natural textile fibers, mushroom, seaweed, or bio-foams. For example, Cruz Cool™, an innovative cold chain packaging solution can protect the items you ship, keeping them cold for 48+ hours. Then, it gracefully dissolves into the earth after use. 4. Use innovative packaging designs Create meal kits with less packaging. Research and embrace innovative packaging designs that reduce the required amount of packing material without compromising product safety and quality. This includes using fewer but more rigid containers to protect multiple ingredients instead of individual wraps. You can also vacuum-seal ingredients so they can fit in smaller compressed containers. Ultimately, light-weighting packaging is one of the simplest and most cost effective methods to reduce your packaging impact. Through these strategies, you can effectively minimize your environmental footprint, reduce packaging waste, and provide consumers with a more eco-friendly experience. Score High on Sustainability with Cruz Foam Meal kits present a mixed bag: they offer unmatched convenience and streamline meal preparation, but their packaging also affects the environment negatively. Cruz Foam is tackling this challenge head on with nature-inspired packaging solutions. Our dedication to sustainable materials shines through in products like Cruz Cush™, a high-performance, compostable packaging suitable for various industries. This innovation has earned Cruz Foam a spot on TIME's inaugural list of America's Top GreenTech Companies for 2024, showcasing our commitment to earth-friendly solutions. With Cruz Foam, you gain the assurance of top-notch protection for your products, all while making a positive impact on the planet. Partner with us today and elevate your brand as a sustainability champion. Contact our team to discover how.

  • Reconciling Personal and Collective Climate Change Action

    The urgency of addressing climate change is now more pressing than ever, prompting a call to action from every corner of society. In the aftermath of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), the global response to this critical issue has left a lingering sense of ambivalence. A prevailing sentiment of personal inadequacy mingles with disillusionment on the world stage, particularly concerning the tepid discourse surrounding agreements to phase out fossil fuels. Disillusionment and Challenges in Climate Action The disillusionment stems from the perception that while individuals are urged to adopt sustainable practices like recycling, reducing consumption, and embracing second-hand goods, the impact seems dwarfed in comparison to the colossal carbon footprint left by major corporations. It is disheartening to witness the sluggish climate change action on the part of these entities, which remain the primary contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, there is also a sense of frustration with the pace of government action on climate change. While individuals and corporations have a role to play in addressing this pressing issue, government policies and regulations are crucial in driving systemic change. The lack of decisive and comprehensive measures to reduce carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources has added to the disillusionment felt by many. However, it is important to note that not all governments share the same level of inaction. Some countries have taken significant steps to mitigate climate change, implementing renewable energy targets, promoting sustainable transportation, and investing in green infrastructure. These examples provide hope and serve as a reminder that government action can make a substantial difference in the fight against climate change. Personal and Collective Responsibility Despite the challenges in climate change action, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The world is witnessing a surge in emerging technologies and innovative materials designed to combat the adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change. These advancements inspire optimism and underscore the potential for transformative solutions that can reshape our relationship with the environment. In the face of this progress and prevailing sense of urgency, it is crucial to acknowledge the collective responsibility shared by individuals, communities, corporations, and governments alike. The emphasis on individual actions on climate change should not diminish but rather be seen as a part of a broader, interconnected strategy. While small-scale changes in lifestyle are vital, a systemic shift must also occur at the institutional and corporate levels to effect substantial change. By recognizing and embracing this responsibility, we can work together to create a sustainable future for generations to come. Personal Actions on Climate Change When it comes to individual actions on climate change, each step taken to mitigate global warming has the potential to create a positive transformation. Here are some practical ways to reduce emissions, conserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable future. There are many avenues to reducing your personal carbon footprint, and the majority of these options will positively impact your health as well. However, it is always imperative to remember that the world’s largest companies are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding this fact allows us to alleviate personal guilt and concentrate on minimizing our carbon footprint solely for its environmental benefits. For those that do want to decrease their personal carbon footprint, here are a few strategies: 1.Walk, bike, or use public transport Switching to low-carbon forms of transportation can significantly reduce the emissions produced by car travel. Not only does this benefit the environment, but it can also positively impact your health and well-being. 2. Switch to an electric car If a private vehicle is an absolute need and you have the budget for it, an electric vehicle is a sustainable solution that offers both comfort and convenience. Electric cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, helping to combat air pollution and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. There are also significant resources needed to manufacture electric vehicles, meaning that the most sustainable option would be to use the car you already have, and buy electric when a new car is absolutely necessary.. 3. Change your energy sources Powering your home on clean energy sources like solar or wind power can lower your personal carbon emissions and aid in the transition away from fossil fuel-reliant power sources. Many municipalities have rebates or other incentives to offset the cost of switching to a renewable energy source. Additionally, even switching to LED or another energy efficient bulb is a wonderful and easy way to reduce your energy consumption. 4. Practice the four Rs of sustainability Reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. These guidelines can help to build climate change action habits that benefit both the planet and your pocket. By only purchasing what you truly need, repairing items whenever possible, and giving items a second life through reuse or recycling, you can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. 5. Throw away less food Food waste is a significant contributor to global emissions and can easily be reduced with the right strategies. Consider building a weekly menu and shopping according to this menu to limit food waste. Add any waste you produce to a home compost pile, bokashi bin, or community composting facility to minimize your wastage and the associated methane emissions. 6. Eat less meat and dairy Meat and dairy produce some of the highest emissions of any food products. Reduce your meat and dairy intake wherever possible, and opt for more plant-based meals and ingredients to play your part in building a more resilient food system. Collective Actions on Climate Change Taking action against climate change requires not only individual efforts but also collective responsibility. It becomes imperative to hold corporations accountable and push for more robust international agreements. Governments, businesses, and citizens must work in tandem to formulate and implement policies that incentivize sustainable practices while penalizing environmental degradation. Moreover, fostering a global mindset that prioritizes environmental stewardship over short-term gains is essential. 1.Demand corporate accountability Hold emission-producing corporations accountable by demanding transparency and adherence to emission reduction targets. These actions will push organizations to prioritize sustainable operations and climate change action over immediate financial gain. 2. Strengthen international cooperation Collaborative agreements like the Paris Agreement provide frameworks for shared and coordinated climate change action. Strengthening these programs, and encouraging tangible repercussions for noncompliance, is critical for ensuring that all countries and regions participate and that climate change is tackled on a global scale. 3. Promote a global environmental mindset Fostering a global mindset through education and awareness campaigns, such as Earth Hour and Climate Week NYC, can build a sense of shared responsibility among individuals and companies alike. When everyone understands how deeply the planet is interconnected, we are better equipped to build an international movement with a keen focus on protecting our greater home: Earth. Reconciling Personal with Collective Actions 1.Acknowledge shared responsibility Every person and organization can be part of the climate solution. This requires acknowledging our shared responsibility in making sustainable choices, using energy conservatively, and avoiding supporting practices and businesses that harm our planet. As always, it is important to acknowledge that while individual action can spark a ripple effect for global change, corporations are directly responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions and must be held accountable for them. 2. Make demands from the government The world’s governments have a responsibility to protect Earth and all of its inhabitants. To drive change, it's crucial to make demands for immediate government action on climate change and hold leaders accountable for their commitments. 3. Make your voice heard by those in power Speak out about your expectations by writing to your elected officials, joining climate marches and protests, and sharing actionable steps for personal and collective climate action. By creating a growing movement of climate action support, we can influence and inspire our leaders to prioritize climate change mitigation. Write to your legislators and ask them to approve certified compostable packaging options for industrial composting. Legislators aim to serve their local communities and if those communities speak out for increased composting infrastructure and corporate accountability, they will listen. Conclusion As we navigate the complex terrain of climate change, it is evident that a multi-faceted approach is necessary. By blending individual responsibility with systemic change, harnessing the potential of emerging technologies, and fostering global cooperation, we can strive toward a more sustainable future. The momentum generated by COP 28 should not dissipate but serve as a catalyst for concerted action on both personal and global fronts. Only through a comprehensive and united effort can we hope to address the urgency of climate change and pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable world. At Cruz Foam, we are dedicated to setting new standards for sustainable packaging products. Our commitment lies in the fusion of science and nature, producing Lomi-approved USDA Certified Biobased products. These products are fully compostable and can be transformed into healthy soil, fostering a stronger and healthier future for current and future generations. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help make your business more sustainable.

  • Mondavi Sisters' Collection Selects Ecovino™ for Sustainable Wine Shipping

    Published: Mar. 21, 2024 By: Bay Cities Packaging & Design View the Full Story Here Bay Cities and Cruz Foam chosen to provide the industry’s first fully sustainable wine shipping protection for impact and insulation. Mondavi Sisters' Collection's commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with our values, and we're proud to back their mission of producing outstanding wines with a focus on sustainability.” — Sahar Mehrabzadeh, EVP of Sales at Bay Cities --Mondavi Sisters' Collection, renowned for its commitment to sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship, will be shipping its wine club deliveries in one-of-a-kind 100 percent sustainable EcoVino™ wine packaging, Mondavi and the manufacturers, Bay Cities® and Cruz Foam™ announced today. Cognizant of the importance of protecting, preserving, and respectfully utilizing the earth, the Mondavi sisters employ the most effective sustainable farming practices. "The essence of crafting all wine starts with the soil and land. Without a healthy earth, there is no wine. As farmers of the land, we possess an obligation to employ the most responsible practices possible to be able to continue our legacy for generations to come," said Alycia Mondavi, CEO and Co-Proprietress of Mondavi Sisters’ Collection. "This is why we are thrilled to partner with Bay Cities and Cruz Foam on their EcoVino wine shipping solutions, a collaboration that will make our operations that much more sustainable." Mondavi Sisters' Collection is owned and operated by Angelina, Alycia, Riana, and Giovanna Mondavi, granddaughters of Napa Valley winemaking pioneer Peter Mondavi Sr. EcoVino, a partnership between Bay Cities, a leading designer and manufacturer of sustainable retail packaging and displays, and Cruz Foam, recently named one of Fast Company’s 2024 World’s Most Innovative Companies, provides an innovative solution crafted from certified biodegradable, certified compostable foam, and recyclable corrugated cardboard. The foam is bioengineered using 70 percent upcycled food industry waste and recycled corrugate, ensuring a structurally sound design that elevates the unboxing experience. Additionally, EcoVino's packaging contributes significantly to the reduction of landfill waste, with its efficient, lightweight, and compact design also reducing freight costs. Notably, EcoVino's insulated temperature control feature makes it ideal for ensuring wine quality during the summer months. Certified for home composting and soon to be certified for landfill composting, EcoVino aligns seamlessly with the Mondavi Sisters' commitment to sustainability. “We're delighted to announce the addition of the Mondavi Sisters' Collection to our EcoVino family," said Sahar Mehrabzadeh, EVP of Sales at Bay Cities. "Their commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with our values, and we're proud to back their mission of producing outstanding wines with a focus on environmental stewardship.” “We are thrilled for the Mondavi Sisters' Collection to be joining us in bringing fully sustainable wine shipping solutions into the wine industry,” said John Felts, CEO and Co-Founder of Cruz Foam. “Their deep commitment to sustainability is underscored by seeing their mission through to the customer delivery supply chain.” As Mondavi Sisters' Collection embarks on this partnership with EcoVino, they reaffirm their commitment to excellence in winemaking and sustainability, ensuring that every aspect of their operation reflects their deep respect for the land and dedication to preserving it for future generations. About EcoVino™: EcoVino™ is a one-of-a-kind sustainable wine shipping product line produced by Bay Cities®, a leading designer and manufacturer of sustainable retail packaging and displays. In collaboration with Cruz Foam™, the TIME award-winning circular materials company, EcoVino is revolutionizing the industry by providing an earth-friendly solution crafted from 100 per cent recyclable corrugate, made with up to 99 per cent post-consumer waste, and certified biodegradable and compostable foam, bioengineered using 70 per cent upcycled food industry waste. In EcoVino, Bay Cities has created a budget-friendly, sustainable, ISTA-tested product line. EcoVino is available in various shipping quantity configurations and styles. Learn more by visiting About Mondavi Sisters' Collection: Starting at the curious and energetic age of 10, each sister- Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna- spent their summers learning the family business from the ground up. Their grandparents wanted to not only share their passion for wine but to additionally generate strong values and inspire the sisters to understand that their work was a true labor of love. Knowing exactly how to accomplish this, the girls were put to work in the cellar and lab rather than the tasting room. Summer days consisted of odd jobs throughout the winery including schlepping hoses, cleaning tanks, soaking bottles, pulling samples and running analyses. A family tradition of summer winery jobs alongside their grandfather and father led each of the sisters to begin their own romance with the wine industry and subsequently each fell in love with their heritage simultaneously. With a desire to honor and pay respect to the generations before them, the sisters launched Dark Matter Wines in 2005, which was followed by the purchase of Aloft in 2017. Both labels focus on elements lending to the homage of the Mondavi Family, however have been reinvented in a presence that speaks to the sisters' personalities and mission for years to come. View the Full Story Here

  • Cruz Foam Earns Spot on Fast Company’s 2024 List of the World’s Most Innovative Companies

    Santa Cruz, California - Cruz Foam has been named in Fast Company's prestigious list of the World's Most Innovative Companies for 2024 in the Social Good Category. The pioneer in eco-friendly packaging solutions joins the winning ranks of Nvidia, YouTube, Taco Bell, and other trailblazers. This recognition upholds the company's unwavering commitment to revolutionizing the packaging industry through cutting-edge sustainable solutions. Cruz Foam's remarkable journey from concept to market leader was driven by a singular purpose: to seamlessly integrate circular material technologies into existing supply chains. Originating from a groundbreaking research project at UC Santa Cruz, co-founders John Felts and Marco Rolandi set on a mission to combat the pervasive issue of single-use plastics. Their team’s steadfast pursuit of excellence has led to a new standard in sustainable packaging. Cruz Foam’s breakthrough products include Cruz Cool™ for cold chain logistics, EcoVino™ for wine and spirits, and Cruz Cush™, a fully customizable block & brace packaging solution. In collaboration with Atlantic Packaging, Verve Coffee, Real Good Fish, and other partners, Cruz Foam continues to transform the $6.3 trillion e-commerce industry. The company's superior technology not only ensures optimal conditions for insulation and cold chain logistics but also significantly impacts the environment. Its compostable foam packaging solution takes 103 days or less to biodegrade, much faster than expanded polystyrene's lifespan of 500 years in nature. This creates a cycle of sustainability, turning waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer or biogas. Cruz Foam's efforts are estimated to mitigate 17,000 tons of CO2 annually. In a time when plastic pollution and waste management must be addressed urgently and comprehensively, Cruz Foam tackles the challenge head-on. Its solutions empower businesses to adopt more eco-conscious practices without compromising cost or performance. Cruz Foam's essence is perfectly encapsulated in four words: innovation, impact, timeliness, and relevance. These are the four selection criteria of Fast Company, a premier magazine focused on technology, innovation, and design, which compiles the World's Most Innovative Companies list annually. Through a meticulous application process spanning the globe, Fast Company spotlights the top 50 businesses and institutions leading their fields in creativity and impact. Fast Company also recognizes a broader list of 606 organizations from 58 industries and every region in the world for their significant contributions to innovation. To honor the awardees, Fast Company will host the Most Innovative Companies Summit and Gala on May 16. The event will provide opportunities for industry leaders to share inspiring content, network at a creative black-tie gala, and enjoy a sit-down dinner. The highlight will be the presentation of winners who consistently push boundaries, inspire change, and drive progress across industries worldwide. More than just an accolade, Cruz Foam's inclusion in Fast Company's World's Most Innovative Companies of 2024 is a passionate call for industries worldwide to embrace sustainability. Partner with Cruz Foam to protect the things you ship and the earth we love. Let's forge a brighter future together. About Cruz Foam Cruz Foam is a circular materials company that produces compostable protective packaging products and other eco-friendly solutions that offer a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic products. Cruz Foam's patented products are circular in nature, using upcycled ingredients to create a compostable material using the existing supply chain and at a similar cost. Cruz Foam currently works with consumer-packaged goods, electronics, appliance, and durable goods companies. Cruz Foam is a mission-driven company that creates impact at scale by empowering industry leaders to be the catalyst for a cleaner environment. Cruz Foam is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California. About Fast Company Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at

  • Eco-Friendly Furniture Packaging: Exploring the Future of Sustainable Living

    We all know the horror of trying to stuff your overflowing trash bin after a move. Some of the largest packages we receive are furniture which is often packaged in mountains of expanded polystyrene, packaging peanuts, poly bags, and paper.  This article tackles an exciting dimension of this shift—eco-friendly furniture packing materials. We'll talk about the risks of traditional boxes, explore the concept of eco-friendly furniture packaging, and illuminate the pathway for businesses eager to adopt this change. Why Traditional Furniture Packaging Isn't Making the Cut Traditional furniture packaging falls short of today's pressing demands for sustainable living. Not only is it ecologically harmful, but it can also hurt businesses. Here's how: Traditional furniture packaging primarily relies on single-use plastic and other synthetic materials, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS). They take an incredibly long time to break down, often ending up in landfills and contaminating the soil and waterways. Exposure to styrene, the raw material for EPS, can lead to various adverse effects, from eye irritation to central nervous system issues. It's even classified as a possible human carcinogen. On top of that, the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, the primary raw material of single-use plastics, lead to substantial amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These raise temperatures and exacerbate climate change. Our air quality is also compromised, leading to potential health risks for all living things. The continued use of traditional furniture packaging can also impact businesses. Employing non-recyclable materials can damage a company's reputation in today's market. A survey by Bain & Company found that 64% of participants expressed a growing concern over sustainability. The same study revealed that consumers were willing to pay 12% more for ecologically friendly products. This shows that sustainable furniture packing materials resonate with consumers, potentially driving increased revenue. And then there’s the costly impact of traditional furniture packing materials. They take up more space during transportation and storage, making transportation costs higher and reducing warehouse capacity. Plus, they're often bulky, increasing waste management costs. Given these challenges, it's clear that the industry needs an effective innovation that doesn't compromise the environment. It's time to turn the spotlight on a strategic solution: sustainable furniture packaging. What is Eco-friendly Furniture Packaging? Eco-friendly furniture packaging is a comprehensive approach to sustainability involving innovative materials, intelligent design, and eco-conscious practices. Innovative materials Using natural and biodegradable options, such as hemp, wood, cotton, and seaweed, is a significant part of this strategy. For instance, mushroom packaging can be molded into various shapes, providing robust protection for furniture while being compostable. Another innovative material is cornstarch, an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Used to craft protective "packing peanuts," it provides excellent cushioning for furniture during transit. It is also relatively easy to dispose of, even dissolving in water, for that extra consumer convenience. Another star starch is pea starch. A nitrogen fixing crop, peas are great for the soil as they grow, can be used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, and can be turned back into soil upon disposal. Smart design Smart design is an equally critical facet of eco-friendly furniture packaging. It is about creating solutions that protect the product while enhancing the consumer experience and meeting sustainability goals. A prime example is flat-pack furniture, which can be disassembled and packed flat for transportation and storage. This significantly reduces the required packaging volume, resulting in less space and fewer resources being used. Ultimately, it lowers carbon emissions during transport. Another design technique is using QR codes on furniture packaging. When scanned, this provides the customers with detailed information about how to recycle the packaging. Other intuitive design products include packages that are easier to recycle or multi-use modular packaging. Sustainable practices Sustainable practices in eco-friendly furniture packaging encompass the complete lifecycle of the product. This could entail choosing suppliers who use sustainable farming practices or optimizing production processes to minimize waste. Companies can tap recyclable furniture packing materials such as cardboard, biodegradable plastics, and glass to minimize waste sent to landfills or incinerators. We now understand what eco-friendly furniture packaging is and how advantageous it is from an environmental and business standpoint. But how does one pick out the right furniture packing materials? Choosing Your Eco-Friendly Furniture Packaging Gearing up to go eco-friendly? Before making decisions, take these key factors into consideration: 1. Material Options Familiarize yourself with the various eco-friendly furniture packing materials. Scrutinize each one's market availability, properties, benefits, and limitations. For instance, corrugated cardboard is lightweight and durable, making it an excellent choice for packaging chairs, smaller tables, shelves, and other relatively light furniture. However, it isn't as suitable when dealing with extreme loads. A hybrid approach could be more effective in such cases. Consider using sturdy, sustainable furniture packing materials like honeycomb cardboard panels or pallet collars to support heavy items such as large solid wood dining tables or bed frames. You can further protect the furniture by wrapping it in corrugated cardboard or using biodegradable plastic wraps. 2. Size and Weight of Your Furniture Correctly assessing the size and weight of your furniture for packaging is crucial. Optimizing packaging dimensions reduces the material used, decreasing resource consumption, and waste. This also results in smaller package sizes, leading to more efficient use of transportation space. Fewer trips are necessary, reducing carbon emissions associated with shipping. Similarly, the weight of your furniture also impacts sustainability. Heavier packages can increase fuel consumption during transportation, leading to higher carbon emissions. Ultimately, eco-friendly furniture packing materials should be expansive and sturdy enough to protect your products but not so bulky or heavy that it leads to unnecessary costs or waste. 3. Cost-effectiveness Look beyond the initial purchase price and consider the full-lifecycle costs. This includes everything from production to disposal. Lighter furniture packing materials, such as recycled cardboard or biodegradable air pillows, offer potential savings in shipping, as many freight carriers charge based on weight. Additionally, materials that can be composted, like mushroom packaging, can minimize waste management costs. And don't forget about the benefits of leveraging recycled or upcycled materials, which can cut the cost of raw material acquisition. Furthermore, certain furniture packing materials, like those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), are not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective. While they might be pricier upfront due to the costs of obtaining FSC certification, they can fetch higher prices in the market. This means that the increased value of your products could offset the initial investment. 4. Certifications and Industry Awards Seek out products certified by organizations like the FSC for paper and cardboard or the ASTM D6400 testing method compostable plastics. Industry awards can also provide insight into a company's commitment to sustainability. For example, Cruz Foam, a leader in sustainable eco-friendly furniture packing materials,  won the Bronze Category in the 2023 PentAwards. This is a prestigious international competition dedicated exclusively to packaging design. 5. Transportation Impacts The carbon footprint of transportation is a major hurdle in attaining sustainability. To demonstrate, shipping a large package at approximately 2,500 miles can generate significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. A package moving from Los Angeles to New York City via air travel can produce up to 8.82 kg CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent or a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints), which is 15 times larger than the emission from a small package transported via ground. By sourcing eco-friendly furniture packing materials closer to your location, you can reduce the distance traveled and, consequently, the amount of GHG emissions. Achieving a Sustainable Future with Cruz Foam Join forces with Cruz Foam, the trailblazer in eco-friendly furniture packaging solutions, and make a tangible difference for our planet's future. Our standout difference is the harnessing of chitin, a bio-polymer found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans, to create a certified compostable packaging foam. Plus, our products’ uniquely efficient strength-to-weight ratio gives robust protection that’s also light enough to keep transportation costs and environmental impact low. Opting for Cruz Foam for your furniture packaging needs is not just a savvy business move but also a pledge towards a healthier, more sustainable world. Ready to create impact at scale? Contact our team today to learn more about Cruz Wrap™, Cruz Pack™, and Cruz Cush.™

  • Global Recycling Day: Bridging the Gap for a Sustainable Future

    Global Recycling Day is a powerful reminder of recycling's critical role in ensuring a sustainable future. It's a day to celebrate the progress we've made in reducing waste and protecting our environment, but also a time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done. In the face of climate change, recycling emerges as a cornerstone of sustainable living, reducing waste and mitigating the environmental impact of our consumption patterns. However, despite its promise, the reality often falls short due to a lack of education and resources, leading to materials finding their way into our landfills and waterways, polluting rather than rejuvenating. Only about 9% of plastics ever made have been properly recycled. That means the majority of plastics (and microplastics) have ended up in landfills or our natural environment. This creates a gap between the intention to recycle and the execution. Let's look at how we can close this gap by exploring problems and solutions in recycling. We can then implement effective strategies and waste management to protect our planet. Challenges in Global Recycling Despite the importance of recycling, several challenges hinder global efforts in this area. Even though there’s a rising demand for recycled plastics, only a fraction of plastic waste undergoes the process, highlighting the significant gap between demand and actual recycling rates. Here are some of the obstacles to achieving effective recycling worldwide: Lack of Education on Proper Recycling While many of us want to do our part for the environment, the path to effective recycling can sometimes be unclear. Without proper education on what can and cannot be recycled, as well as the correct methods of doing it, our efforts may inadvertently contribute to pollution rather than conservation. Plastic bottles, for example, are generally recyclable, but if they are improperly cleaned or contain non-recyclable materials, they can contaminate the recycling stream. Similarly, pizza boxes may seem recyclable, but if they are soiled with grease or food residue, they cannot be recycled. Wish-Cycling Many people fall into the trap of wish-cycling—the act of throwing non-recyclable products into the recycling bin and hoping that will keep them out of landfills. This practice leads to contamination of recyclable materials, making the recycling process less efficient and more costly. It’s a major obstacle to recycling initiatives as it hampers the proper sorting and processing of materials, ultimately undermining the goals of recycling programs. Inadequate Recycling Infrastructure Poor recycling infrastructure in certain regions impedes global recycling efforts. This issue is exacerbated by the insufficient participation of municipalities, resulting in a lack of critical resources and support for successful recycling systems. Additionally, inefficient recycling programs hinder progress by failing to optimize the collection, processing, and reuse of recyclable materials. Solutions for Effective Recycling Despite the obstacles in global recycling, there are many practical ways to turn intentions into impactful actions for a cleaner, greener planet. Education and Awareness Education and awareness are key factors in promoting effective recycling practices. Understanding the recycling process, knowing what can be recycled, and how to prepare materials for recycling are essential. Simple actions like understanding plastic recycling numbers can make a significant difference in the efficiency of recycling programs. Rinsing containers before recycling and separating materials into the correct bins are also impactful steps individuals can take to support recycling efforts. Incorporating recycling education into school curriculums, community workshops, and public campaigns empowers people to make informed choices and actively participate in recycling efforts. Social media platforms can be powerful tools for spreading awareness and educating a wider audience about recycling practices and sustainability. Plastic Recycling Implementing efficient collection systems, such as curbside pickup and designated drop-off locations, encourages participation. Investing in advanced recycling technologies such as chemical and mechanical recycling enhances the recycling process and enables the conversion of plastic waste into new products. Collaborating with industries to use recycled plastic in manufacturing promotes a circular economy. By combining these strategies, we can create a sustainable approach to plastic recycling on a global scale, reducing waste and conserving resources for a greener future. Responsible Waste Management Recycling, waste reduction, and appropriate disposal of hazardous materials are integral to responsible waste management. Educating individuals and businesses about the benefits of recycling and providing accessible recycling facilities in communities encourages participation. Collaborative Partnerships Municipalities play a significant role in shaping recycling initiatives and providing the necessary infrastructure to support them. Collaborating with local governments, organizations, businesses, and recycling stakeholders can help bridge the gap between intention and action. Together, local governments and organizations can pool their resources and adopt Global Recycling Day goals to overcome shared challenges and implement effective recycling programs. Collaboration allows us to create a more cohesive and coordinated approach to recycling, leading to greater success in waste management and sustainability. Moreover, local governments and businesses should actively embrace the use of eco-friendly products and packaging solutions offered by companies like Cruz Foam. By incorporating products such as Cruz Cool™ and Cruz Cush™ into their operations, they can significantly reduce the environmental impact of consumer goods. Embracing a Circular Economy Embracing a circular system requires a shift in mindset. It's not just about disposing of waste; it's about reimagining the lifecycle of materials. Every item has the potential for a second life if properly recycled and reused. By embracing this concept, we can reduce our reliance on finite resources and minimize the environmental impact of our consumption habits. Build a Sustainable Future with Cruz Foam As we celebrate Global Recycling Day 2024, let's reflect on the power we hold to make a difference. Recycling is a vital component of our collective efforts to protect our planet. Today, the staggering 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic polluting our oceans is a stark reminder of how important it is to lean into our resources and educate ourselves on waste reduction so we can safeguard our planet for future generations. At Cruz Foam, we are deeply committed to promoting sustainability, recycling, and waste reduction. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how they contribute to a brighter, more sustainable future.

  • Women and Climate Change: Exploring the Disproportionate Impact of the Climate Crisis

    Women are among the most vulnerable groups affected by the climate change crisis. In many ways, they’re on the frontline, experiencing the impacts disproportionately. It’s true that climate change serves as a threat multiplier for women. The climate crisis exacerbates existing gender inequalities, making them more susceptible to its adverse effects. Women, particularly in developing nations, face heightened risks due to their roles in agriculture, limited access to resources, and increased vulnerability to climate-related disasters. In this article, we will discuss the many challenges women face in the wake of climate change and shed light on their resilience and unwavering strength as formidable catalysts for positive transformation. The Challenges Women Face as a Result of Climate Change Agricultural Challenges According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), women constitute approximately 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. Despite this, they face significant discrimination in land and livestock ownership, equal pay, and access to credit and financial services. A study by the FAO revealed that if they had the same access to productive resources as men, women could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. Climate-induced changes in weather patterns, such as irregular rainfall and extreme temperatures, directly affect crop yields and food security. As females frequently manage food cultivation and domestic food stability, they encounter amplified challenges resulting from these changes. Water Scarcity The United Nations has reported that women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80% of households without access to water on premises. Collectively, women from Sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water. Climate change exacerbates water scarcity, and in turn, the burden on women and girls increases, with significant implications for their health, education, and overall well-being. As droughts become more common, women and girls are forced to travel farther distances to retrieve water for their households resulting in less time allocated for education and other activities. On top of that, this water is often contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic which can lead to a myriad of additional health issues such as skin lesions, swollen limbs, and numbness. Health and Safety Women and girls have higher death and injury rates due to climate disasters. For instance, during heatwaves, pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight. A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal found that climate change is likely to increase the incidence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, which pose significant risks to women's health, especially during pregnancy. Women as Agents of Change Despite being disproportionately affected, women are not just victims of the climate crisis; they are also powerful agents of change. Women around the world are leading initiatives to address climate change, from grassroots movements to international advocacy. Recognizing and empowering women in environmental decision-making processes is crucial for sustainable solutions. Below are a few ways to include women to create positive change in the face of the climate crisis. Governmental Action Studies show that countries with higher female representation in parliament are more likely to adopt and implement environmental policies. Women's unique perspectives and experiences can lead to more comprehensive and effective environmental governance. In fact, A study published in the European Journal of Political Research found that female parliamentary participation in renewable energy policies was significantly positive. Climate Resilience Women's knowledge and leadership are critical in building climate-resilient communities. Including women in the decision-making process for urban planning ensures that infrastructure and policies consider the needs of all community members. A report by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme highlights the importance of gender-responsive urban planning in enhancing climate resilience and sustainable development. Advocacy and Education Empowering women and girls through education is essential for nurturing future climate leaders. Education equips women with the knowledge and skills to advocate for environmental sustainability. Highlighting female climate leaders in educational materials can inspire young women and girls to take action. The Malala Fund's report on girls' education and climate change emphasizes the potential of educated girls to lead climate solutions. It’s about ensuring women use education to drive change. Business Women entrepreneurs are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their business models. A report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) found that women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Supporting women in business not only advances gender equality but also promotes environmental sustainability. When we bolster women in business, we bolster climate action. Female Climate Activists There’s no question that climate change affects women, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Today, there are plenty of women who are making valuable changes at every level of the movement. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few key female leaders in the fight against climate change. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim An indigenous environmental activist from Chad, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is known for her work in advocating for indigenous peoples' rights. She specializes in traditional knowledge of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Ibrahim is the President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT). Christiana Figueres The former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Figueres played a key role in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Figueres is also co-author of the book “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis” which delves into what the year 2050 will look like if we fail to meet the climate targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. Katharine Hayhoe A climate scientist and professor, Katharine Hayhoe is known for her work in communicating the science of climate change and bridging the gap between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Hayhoe is the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy. Additionally, Hayhoe is the author of “Saving Us: a Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” which is a masterclass on science communication and an exemplary call to action in the face of climate change impact on women. Vanessa Nakate A Ugandan climate activist, Nakate is known for her work in highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on African communities and advocating for climate justice on a global scale. Nakate is the founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement and has been a leading voice in the campaign to save Congo’s rainforest from devastating deforestation. Conclusion The climate crisis is a complex challenge that touches every aspect of human life. Understanding its gendered impacts is vital for creating effective and inclusive solutions. By acknowledging and addressing the specific nuances of women and climate change, we can work towards a more equitable and resilient future where no one is left behind. It is time to amplify the voices of women and recognize their indispensable role in shaping a sustainable world for generations to come.

  • Cruz Foam™ Recognized as one of America's Top GreenTech Companies 2024

    Published: Mar. 5, 2024 By: TIME & Statista View the Full Story Here How TIME and Statista determined America's Top GreenTech Companies of 2024 The booming green-technology sector has emerged as a beacon of hope, not only for investors—it’s predicted to grow to $9.5 trillion by 2030—and for the many workers it employs, but also for the planet at large. Greentech companies leverage innovation and new business models to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, displace unsustainable materials, and reduce the demand for nonrenewable natural resources. A new statistical ranking by TIME and Statista ranks 250 of America’s top sustainability-­focused companies, based on their positive environmental impact, financial strength, and innovation, to see who is rising to the top of the field. To determine these, Statista analyzed data points such as value of the company's intellectual property portfolio, revenue and funding, and environmental data specific to each industry, such as carbon capture, offsets, and renewable energy generated. ZeroAvia, the top company on the list, develops hydrogen-electric planes and already has 1,500 provisional orders for its aircraft. “The most important action is to tackle the hard-to-abate sectors, such as aviation,” CEO Val Miftakhov tells TIME. “Yes, we can and will tackle the low-hanging fruit like switching to EVs and building more renewables, but as that happens, we will have stubborn emissions in certain sectors that begin to make up a vast majority of the greenhouse-gas impacts.” Brimstone, based in Oakland, Calif., ranks fifth. The company produces zero-carbon cement, a groundbreaking innovation for the production of a material responsible for 5.5% of global greenhouse-­gas emissions. With urbanization showing no sign of slowing, experts regard reducing the climate impact of cement production as critical. Marcelo De Oliveira, vice president of materials science and geology at Brimstone, tells TIME that the green-tech boom is as much about inspiration as it is about innovation—inspiring a new generation of scientists and eco-preneurs to deploy their talent to addressing climate change. “Our most valuable resource in solving this problem is people,” says De Oliveira. “We urgently need more individuals dedicated to addressing it.” What’s most striking about the ranking is the diversity of types of companies at the upper reaches of green tech, a range spurred by significant government investment via the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The industry now reflects major investments in the panoply of approaches that will be required to reduce the environmental impact of everything from food to heavy industry, and develop renewable power from solar to fusion. —Shyla Raghav Contact us today to learn more View the Full List Here

  • Caroline DeLoach, Sustainability Director of Atlantic Packaging weighs in on circularity at Coast Summit panel

    In November, Caroline DeLoach, the Sustainability Director of Atlantic Packaging - the largest privately held industrial packaging solutions company in North America, joined our CEO, John Felts on the "Shutting Off the Tap" panel at the Coast Summit, where she discussed the Plastic Pollution Reduction and Producer Responsibility Act, also known as California's SB 54. The bill requires the formation of a Producer Responsibly Organization (PRO) that will be responsible for delivering on targets for waste reduction and higher recycling rates, with oversight from CalRecycle. The gist is this: anyone selling goods in California will have to join the PRO, which will determine future fee structures for packaging materials. These eco-modulated fee structures won't be announced for some time, but the Panel asked Caroline how she'd prioritize things if she was in charge, with circularity in mind. Her response was unmatched.🌱

  • Finding Solutions in Nature: How Bio Based Materials Help Drive Low-Carbon Economy

    Whether it's single-use plastic waste or greenhouse gas emissions, we all know we're facing a global environmental crisis. It's easy to feel discouraged or defeated, but that's not going to help. If we're proactive about finding innovative solutions and driving real change, there's absolutely hope for a better future. Where should we turn? To nature, of course. There's something magical about using the earth to save the earth. In this article, we'll unpack how bio-based materials can help to drive a low carbon economy. No matter which industry we're operating in, it's about fostering a cradle-to-grave mentality and understanding how we can offset or amend our impact. What is a low-carbon economy? First of all, let’s understand what we’re aiming for: a low carbon economy. This is an ecological economy driven by low energy consumption and low pollution. The British Department for Trade and Industry first coined the term “low carbon economy” in a white paper released in 2003 when referring to their energy future. In essence, a low carbon economy considers a product’s consumption patterns from concept to disposal. The goal is to develop products and engineering technology that prioritizes low CO₂ emissions. Moreover, it requires technical support and development for CO₂ capture, recycling, and geological disposal. Why carbon? While we have become relatively numb to the phrase, “global warming” is still a genuine reality. For decades, China has been responsible for the world’s most significant CO₂ emissions thanks to a thermal power plant that consumes around 70% of China’s annual output of raw coal. Despite introducing alternative power sources, coal still makes up more than half of China’s energy mix. A low carbon economy is crucial in an increasingly energy-demanding society. We have to make a shift to a global energy matrix that prioritizes renewable energy technologies. That’s where carbon credits come into play. While it’s fundamental that companies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, it might be impossible to eliminate them entirely. For many, it’s necessary to use carbon credits to offset emissions. Voluntary carbon credits mean private financing of climate-action projects. Without this investment, these projects would struggle to get off the ground. More importantly, they have additional benefits like biodiversity protection, pollution prevention, and job creation. Carbon credits support investment into the innovation required to tackle this problem head-on, creating the ultimate circular economy. What is a bio-based material? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), biomaterials, or rather, bio-based materials, refer to products that mainly consist of a substance, or multiple substances, that come from living matter, better known as biomass. These substances naturally occur or are synthesized using a process that utilizes biomass. Technically, products like paper, wood, and leather are considered bio-based materials. However, it’s more commonly used to describe more modern materials that have undergone an extensive process. Materials produced from biomass sources include bulk chemicals, platform chemicals, solvents, polymers, and biocomposites. Many of these are then used to create new, sustainable materials. They’re a far cry from their petroleum-based counterparts, giving us hope for the future. The role of bio-based materials in a low carbon economy You’re probably wondering how bio-based materials and carbon emissions intersect. For many businesses, bio-based materials are a gateway to becoming carbon neutral. By including bio-based content in products, and using circular strategies in our supply chains, we can prevent previously absorbed carbon from re-entering the atmosphere. When paired with key manufacturing facility transformations, products featuring bio-based material can often become carbon negative. Let’s look at a real-world example of this in action. Interface recently introduced a carbon-negative carpet tile. When measured from start to finish, including everything from raw material extraction and processing to manufacturing, there is less CO₂ in the atmosphere than before - without the purchase of carbon offsets or credits. When customers no longer want their carpets, Interface reclaims the carpet tiles, recycling them into new products. This reduces the need to harvest more raw materials and allows them to reduce their carbon footprint consistently. Using a circular model to transform their tile into new products - as opposed to adopting the linear disposal model so popular in our society - is key to preventing carbon from entering the atmosphere. The 2020 United Nations Environment Programme report states that the building industry is responsible for nearly 40% of the world’s energy-related emissions. Most emissions are associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of building materials, making it critical for the construction industry to prioritize biomaterials. Timber is the most apparent bio-based material in construction projects, shifting away from concrete and steel. In the past, timber was used in more contemporary designs, like the Metropol Parasole in Seville, Spain. However, timber structures are increasing, given the various benefits of the product. Other bio-based alternatives include mycelium boards and bricks. It only takes five days to grow mycelium boards in a mold filled with organic waste and infused with fungal spores. The process happens naturally; the only energy required is a little heat to stop the growth at the right moment. While these bricks have lower compressive strength than conventional bricks, they’re the perfect eco-friendly solution for insulation and internal partitions. What about bio-based packaging? If bio-based materials are driving impact in big industries like construction, we should look to them for sustainable packaging solutions. In 2021, the global single-use packaging market was valued at $22.59 billion. Approximately 36% of all plastics produced are used in packaging. Of that, 85% ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste. Fortunately, this space has some exciting innovations as we look for alternative packaging opportunities from natural materials. Popular bio-materials for packaging There are several plastic alternatives that have emerged from bio-based raw materials. Some of the top contenders include: Polylactic Acid (PLA) Polylactic Acid is made from fermented plant starch like corn, cassava, sugarcane, or sugar beet pulp. In essence, the plant-based carbohydrate source of choice goes through bacterial fermentation, becoming a lactic acid. PLA is considered a “thermoplastic” polyester, given how it responds to heat. This makes it suitable for plastic film, bottles, and biodegradable medical devices like screws, pins, plates, and rods. It can also be used as a shrink-wrap material since it constricts under heat. From an environmental perspective, PLA ticks a lot of boxes. It is biodegradable under commercial composting conditions and will break down within twelve weeks. The manufacturing process itself produces 80% less CO₂ than traditional plastic. Lignin Lignin is a complex organic polymer deposited in many plants’ cell walls, making them rigid and woody. It forms a critical structural material to support the tissues of these plants. As a byproduct of agricultural industries, lignin can be used for a number of sustainable packaging solutions. Its thermal stability and biodegradability make it an excellent choice for bags, packaging films, and coatings. Bio-Polyethylene Terephthalate (Bio-PET) PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester. Unlike traditional PET, Bio-PET is made from mono ethylene glycol (MEG), a naturally occurring product of sugarcane ethanol and purified terephthalic Acid (PTA). In essence, it takes the leftovers from sugar manufacturing and ferments them to produce a biodegradable plastic-like resin. Common uses for Bio-PET include bottles, films, and textile fibers. Biomaterial Based Packaging Examples Businesses looking for solutions in nature continue to emerge. With that comes more innovation and sustainable packaging alternatives. Here are some of the top brands to consider: Cruz Foam Cruz Foam provides a natural, bio-based styrofoam alternative. It is derived from naturally sourced biopolymers and earth-digestible materials like chitin, a waste product from the seafood industry, and it is 100% compostable. Cruz Foam aims to create circular materials from the ocean, for the ocean. By harnessing the diversity found in nature, they’re producing ocean-friendly, high-performance packaging alternatives that break down within weeks. If you’re looking for a durable alternative to one of today’s most harmful single-use plastics, inquire today! Circule Solutions Circule Solutions offers sustainable apparel packaging and accessories that are entirely customizable. This includes garment dust covers, hangers, buttons, and tags. The products themselves come from Naturtec, a business that prides itself on biobased and compostable plastic solutions. Their compostable biopolymers are produced using NTIC’s proprietary ReX process. During this process, biodegradable polymers, natural polymers, and organic and inorganic materials are reactively blended in the presence of compatibilizers and polymer modifiers. The result? A compostable polymer resin. Paptic Paptic offers bio-based packaging solutions for bags and pouches used across various industries, including e-commerce shipping, product packaging, food, and homeware. The material itself is made from renewable wood fibers. It combines sustainability, strength, and positively distinguishable haptic properties perfectly. The goal is for Paptic materials to replace the oil-based materials currently dominating these industries. All products can be reused multiple times and eventually recycled to create more packaging paper and cardboard products. Pyratex Pyratex aims to replace synthetic textiles with natural, more responsible options. They have worked to produce sustainable fabrics that have been engineered to retain the fiber’s natural properties. Not only are the materials good for the environment, but they’re better for your bodies, eliminating harmful chemicals that are often used in synthetic alternatives. The fabrics are made from vegetal, upcycled, or biodegradable fibers. Moreover, any active components aren’t artificially injected or added. They come from the plant itself. Springboard Biodiesel Springboard Biodiesel makes appliances that allow anyone to convert waste oils and fats into a clean, burning fuel called biodiesel. All for the lowest cost possible. On average, their customers enjoy making fuel for $1.25 per gallon. The equipment they have created is easy to operate because it’s all automated. It consistently makes top-quality biodiesel from a broad spectrum of oils, pumping the finished product into storage or any diesel engine. You’ll find their machinery in schools, military bases, community centers, farms, restaurants, or breweries. The Takeaway Nature continues to deliver remarkable solutions. In order to achieve our goals for a low carbon economy, it makes sense to fiercely pursue bio-based materials in all their forms. Whether in packaging, construction, tech development, or energy, we must prioritize renewable resources that offer the sustainability we so desperately need.

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