The shipping industry is notoriously wasteful, but California-based company Cruz Foam has developed eco-friendly packaging made from a material that is found naturally in shrimp shells.
Each year, about 2.2 million tons of expanded polystyrene foam is produced to make things like bubble wrap for your online purchases, reports Cruz Foam.
This material is problematic, however — it is slow to degrade and can leach harmful chemicals into the environment, polluting water. The manufacturing process also contributes to planet-warming pollution.
Cruz Foam is seeking an eco-friendly alternative by utilizing a material called chitin, which is found in shrimp shells, insects, and fungi. Its range of products include cold packaging for foods and protective wrap that acts as an alternative to bubble wrap.
John Felts, CEO of Cruz Foam, called the product “earth digestible.” It is biodegradable, so it can be composted or thrown into a landfill for quick decomposition. According to the company’s website, Cruz Foam degrades more than 3,000 times faster than expanded polystyrene.
The company also said its product has the potential to mitigate 17,000 tons of carbon pollution each year by replacing the polystyrene supply.
E-commerce is at an all-time high, which is great for manufacturers and consumers, but not so great for the environment.
Amazon and other companies have said they are trying to reduce packaging waste, but the numbers tell a different story. Of the 380 million tons of plastic produced each year by Amazon (think product packaging and styrofoam), about half of that is single-use plastic, reports CNBC.
Single-use plastics are just one problem plaguing major e-commerce companies. One Redditor was astounded after opening an almost laughably oversized Amazon box that contained just one small product.
Of course, wasteful practices aren’t just confined to the e-commerce sector. Many companies also throw out products that they can’t sell. In 2022, one TikToker called Victoria’s Secret out for asking employees to cut “damaged” clothing items and throw them in the trash instead of selling them at a discount.
You could start seeing Cruz Foam in your online deliveries in the near future. The company is already working with Rivian and Whirlpool, according to CNBC, and is financially backed by Helena, Sound Waves, At One Ventures, and One Small Planet.
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