So, we primarily use 100% recycled, 100% recyclable plastic for packaging. But we don’t think that’s good enough if we want to truly reduce our environmental impact in the long run. Here at Square Roots we have continually asked: If we want to extend shelf life and minimize food waste with packaging, but do not want to use plastic, what are the alternatives?
Frustratingly, most of the options have their issues.
Compostables seem like a great idea, as they ultimately degrade into nutrient-rich organic matter. But the most widely available compostable options largely rely on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to repel water and keep food fresh. These chemicals can contaminate soil and water and are linked to worrying health conditions.
Encouragingly, some fast-casual restaurant leaders now use PFAS-free compostable containers. But even if this becomes standard, this packaging solution is really optimized for keeping a meal in good shape during a Doordash delivery—not for keeping fresh produce at top quality for two or more weeks in a refrigerator.
Paper is another area we’ve researched for potential solutions. We’ve learned about emerging paper options coated with films made from vegetable materials that provide comparable levels of impermeability to plastic. But that technology, while really exciting, is in its infancy for food safety testing and accessible pricing—certainly for smaller companies like ours.
Of course, we remain committed to continuing our research to identify packaging alternatives. But until we find a food-safe alternative that both extends shelf life and minimizes food waste, we believe we’re making the most responsible, fact-based choice today by using RPET.