The Environmental Footprint of the Supplement Industry
BY TERRASEED / September 3, 2021
There is a lot to unpack within the negative impacts of plastic waste in the environment. Although you might have seen first hand how it affects marine and land ecosystems, you might not be aware of how the supplement industry contributes to the footprint plastic waste has on the planet.
So, to shed some light over the complex consequences of plastic waste in general and the direct involvement of the supplement industry on pollution, let’s look at some
Not So Well-known Facts…
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. It's hard to imagine what this number entails, but that amount is
22,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building, and only 9% of it is recycled.
Due to the cheap practices of the supplement industry, both its waste and its environmental impacts are larger than you could ever imagine. It can be estimated that approximately 2.3 billion supplement bottles are sold each year. Taking into account that most of these products are packaged in plastic bottles while others are packaged in what is known as “secondary packaging”, you can imagine the devastating consequences.
Of course, plastic is a low-cost and lightweight solution for this industry, as their products suffer many environmental changes before reaching their ultimate destination. An attempt to lessen this massive impact was the incorporation of glass bottles as a packaging alternative. Despite it being a more environmentally conscious solution, it is NOT the ultimate solution, as glass is heavier and generates more greenhouse gases emissions when shipped.
Moreover, it takes 1 billion years for glass to fully decompose.
So, what happens to plastic once it is discarded?
The majority of plastic waste (a whopping 79%) ends up in landfills, while approximately 17% is combusted. Regarding combustion, carbon dioxide is released during the process which, as you may know, is the leading cause of global climate change. The consequences go from global warming to the acidification of oceans.
Although some of this plastic waste can and is recycled, half of it is shipped overseas to low-income countries with ineffective waste management systems, where it will be discarded or burned, affecting both the environment and the people who live there. Every year 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean, resulting in an even worse outcome. In comparison to the whopping 450 years it takes for plastic waste to degrade in landfills, in the ocean it never does; instead it breaks down into tiny pieces called “microplastics”, which can harm both land and marine animals when unconsciously consumed.
Our mission is clear
As you can see, the impact the supplement industry has on the planet is huge. This is the reason why Terraseed’s mission is to implement a zero plastic solution by using a conscious packaging option that is both plastic-free and biodegradable. The most important thing is that all of this can be overturned by seeking to incorporate more sustainable and less harmful options when it comes to supplement packaging.