What do beauty and baby food have in common? They produce a ton of waste

On average, every American produces 1,609 pounds of garbage each year, and globally, we produce 2.12 billion tons of waste each year. You read that right. And when it comes to plastic, 91% of plastic waste has not been recycled.

On a daily basis, many of us try to do good while respecting the environment. We recycle. We plant trees. We minimize water consumption. We do carpooling. But when it comes to waste, current efforts don’t balance the monstrous mountain of trash that is created every year. Sustainability is – many times – easier said than done. But some brands are addressing the pressing challenge, solving problems, setting standards, and making meaningful sustainable decisions that are much easier for the rest of us.

Take the pak palette. This beauty start-up is leading the sustainable beauty packaging revolution and has a mission to make beauty reusable. It’s no easy feat when you consider all the disposable plastic tubes, pumps, droppers, containers and bottles that are used in just one day in the average person’s beauty and personal care routine. Disrupting a billion dollar disposable beauty industry, Palette is using innovation, form, function and design to deliver refillable, washable and reusable beauty products to stop disposable beauty.

How big is the problem? Approximately 120 billion units (yes billions) of single-use beauty and personal care products are produced annually. If you need a visual of just how big it actually is, that’s enough to fill the entire Pacific Ocean every year. Considering that recent statistics reveal that up to 95% of this packaging is not actually recycled, it doesn’t take long for the alarm bells to start ringing.

By addressing disposable beauty one category at a time, Palette first addresses a very important subset of the biggest problem of disposable and disposable beauty packaging: travel and mini sizes.

Most people are unaware that tiny plastics like single-use travel size and minis are not recycled at all due to their small size and end up directly in our landfills, waterways and oceans. This is why California and New York have banned travel products in hotels starting in 2023 and 2025, respectively.

Another industry that’s big on single-use items and gets rocked? The baby food industry. It is expected to reach $ 96.3 billion by 2027 and does not currently have the same regulations and requirements as its formula counterparts.

What it means: Pretty much everything is fine when it comes to how the food our little ones eat is packaged and processed, which not only means more waste, but can also lead to problems in brain development due to the chemicals entering the sauces and purees.

Brands like Cerebelly are keeping nutrition a top priority by making vegetables the first ingredient and cutting down on sugar. The food they offer is non-GMO, 100% plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free and they are setting standards where they didn’t exist before.

It is the first and only baby food brand to provide the 16 essential nutrients that are critical for brain development, which in itself is quite a big development; but they are also the first baby food brand to receive the Clean Label Project Purity award, awarded to products tested for over 400 contaminants and heavy metals.

While transparency and science are big wins, they are also at the forefront of partnering with customers to reduce consumer waste. Through a partnership with international recycling leader, TerraCycle, which specializes in providing recycling solutions for typically non-recyclable waste, Cerebelly has achieved a milestone of 100,000 bags of recycled baby food and, starting with Earth Day 2022, the Cerebelly’s waste collection is expected to reach 110,000 recycled bags.

Terracycle hopes to help other baby food brands as well. Gerber currently has a recycling program with Terracycle to ship packaging that otherwise cannot be recycled into local municipal programs. With prepaid shipping labels, you can send your packaging for reprocessing. It is a start.

Thanks to companies like Terracycle, more than 200 trillion people around the world are recycling and ultimately aim to be able to “recycle everything” – a lofty goal worth pursuing.

Recycling reduces the required amount of raw materials to be processed, thereby reducing air and water pollution. It also positively affects climate change, saving energy and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It is essential that companies contribute to the sustainability of our planet. And while many of us do our best through sustainable habits, we want, and should, try to do more and support brands that not only solve problems, but set standards to follow in the future. As a mom of toddlers and a woman who likes a bold lip from time to time, I keep an eye out for ways to cut down on my waste.

The views expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.

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