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The Aluminum Silver Lining

Posted on February 08, 2021
The Aluminum Silver Lining

Every year in the United States, over 35,000 tons of plastic are created and of this, 27,000 tons end up being placed in landfills.  According to National Geographic, if present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills – this amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building. 

Flume ambassador and world-renowned National Geographic photographer, Pete McBride, is committed to helping stop this trend.  Pete actively works to fight the plastic crisis, save wild places and educate others on the profound damage our obsession with plastic is having, “While single-use containers offer a remarkable convenience, they create even larger challenges for the planet, as what we use doesn’t get recycled nearly as much as we think.”  In fact, only 9% of plastic is recycled in the United States, while the remaining 91% is left to accumulate in the Earth’s surface. Pete continued,

This affects our rivers, our beaches, our oceans, our food, and ultimately our lifestyles.  Plastic is not a black or white problem. We all rely on it and appreciate its efficiencies, but we also need to find ways to avoid its single-use pollution and reduce where we can.” 

- Pete McBride, Flume Ambassador 

Undeniably, the most effective way to reduce waste and our impact on the planet, is to simply not create it in the first place.  But for the times when we must produce something, it is our responsibility to make a decision with the future of the planet in mind.

When Flume launched in October 2020, we were the first supplement brand (that we know of) to use aluminum jars for our primary packaging material. The supplement industry has been innovative in many ways over the last few decades, but unfortunately, a move toward more sustainable, earth-friendly packaging has not been one of them as the vast majority of products are still sold in single-use plastic containers.  We found this perplexing given that the whole mission of the industry is to promote health and wellness, and the health of people is inextricably linked to the health of the planet.

Moreover, the health of the supplement industry’s supply chains also require that we act responsibly to protect the natural places we rely on to grow and harvest the quality, plant-based ingredients. This is especially true for us at Flume since all of our formulations are made from botanicals and other earth-derived ingredients.  On top of that, we believe the pristine beauty of nature is medicine in itself and synergistic to our products, so we made a commitment to avoid plastic as much as possible in delivering our products to consumers. 

In considering what the ideal packaging material would be for our plant-based formulas, We thought about our lifestyles and what would not only work well as a barrier to air and light to keep our products fresh, but what would travel well and could be recycled an repurposed with ease. While glass is widely available and can be considered a more earth-friendly alternative to plastic, it has the disadvantage of being heavy and breakable.  For us, aluminum was the answer.

“We chose aluminum because it fits nicely into our quest to act responsibly.  We like to say nature is our product, so we will not trample on it. This is at the heart of so much of our thinking and decision making. Aluminum provides us the opportunity to work towards our goal of a net-positive impact.

Lucas Heldfond, Co-Founder of Flume

Aluminum is one of the most sustainable packaging materials readily available to us.  It is durable, lightweight, minimalistic and highly recyclable.  When it comes to transportation, aluminum not only offers space efficacy, but also has a much lower packaging weight that other materials, requiring less overall carbon emissions when it comes to shipping.  

 

This plastic pollution zone photographed by Pete McBride, reveals a small glimpse of our human dependence on single-use plastic. This fence was set up in a Southern California estuary channel, in an effort by Surfrider Foundation to protect our beaches and sea from further damage.

Aluminum is also 100% recyclable; this means it can be recycled infinitely with very little reduction in quality.  Aside from being highly recyclable, aluminum is one of the most recycled materials on the market, with 75% of all aluminum ever produced still being in use today, in large part because its quality is not significantly changed by the recycling process.  Alternatively, plastics involve very complicated sorting and are often ‘downcycled’.  This means their quality degrades with each recycling process, making the material very difficult to reuse.  

The aluminum recycling process also utilizes significantly less energy than that required of plastic, creating an overall reduction in carbon emissions. When Marian Van Pelt, Vice President at ICF, looked at the carbon footprint of a beverage container’s use phase, he reported, “Across all scenarios studied, aluminum has lower associated use-phase emissions than comparable glass or plastic containers.” 

 

Lightweight, packable, and adventure-ready, our aluminum tin containers were designed for the outdoor lifestyle.

Not only does aluminum check the boxes for us in terms of its environmental impact, but aluminum strongly compliments the lifestyle of outdoor adventurers.  Its lightweight, packable and travel friendly characteristics, make our tin containers the perfect candidate to be repurposed.  Whether it's for storing trail mix on a hike, keeping wax out of the sun and sand, or simply bringing some nature into your home by using our tins as mini planter boxes, our containers encourage consumers to get creative.

Too often we found ourselves wanting to repurpose containers from products we had bought in the past, but whether it was the stubborn adhesive that never fully peel off or a lid that never fully sealed, we were continuously left unsatisfied and as a result those containers went to waste.  By intentionally using a non-permanent adhesive, a strong lid system and designing our tins to be as lightweight and minimalistic as possible, our aluminum jars are the perfect companion for any adventure. 

 

One of the many ways to repurpose our aluminum tin containers – granola on the go. 

At Flume, we strive to make the least impact possible because we believe the health of people and the planet are inextricably linked.  By prioritizing the natural resources that nurture our health and wellbeing now, we ensure their availability to future generations. However, we realize the changes that need to take place to save our planet are far bigger than just that of our one small business.  We acknowledge that true and impactful change requires a collective effort, and that is why we are proud to be working alongside 1% for the Planet.  By supporting their efforts and working together with the many non-profits, volunteers, and other businesses involved, we vow to take a stand for the planet.

 

 

By: The Flume Team

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