Why Baby Food Pouches Are Terrible For The Planet

Americans will throw away 80 billion in 2018

When it comes to the products we use on a day-to-day basis, there’s often a conflict between convenience and sustainability. Between 2011 and 2013, sales of single-serve coffee pods more than tripled. But these pods are made of unsustainable plastic and foil and have come to represent a form of careless consumerism. Over the past four years, a consumer backlash has contributed to a huge sales decline of the pods. Now, environmentalists are focusing their attention on a new unsustainable product: baby food pouches.

Traditionally, baby food came in glass containers that were either reusable or could be thrown into a recycling bin. But now, on-the-go parents are choosing convenient, plastic pouches filled with anything from vegetable-beef medley to organic bananas. The pouches, known as doypacks in the industry, come with a plastic snap-off top with a straw-like opening that allows babies and toddlers to easily suck the food out.

“The problem with the disposable pouches is that they’re made from multiple layers of materials and the recyclable components can’t be separated out,” Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management, told HuffPost. So these pouches soon pile up in landfills, where they will take thousands of years to biodegrade. By 2018, Americans will throw out an estimated 80 billion of these packs a year.

For those who want to continue to enjoy baby food pouches without the guilt, there’s a company in New Jersey that’s making strides to decrease their environmental impact. TerraCycle accepts used baby food pouch donations and then cleans and extrudes them into new polymers that are remodeled to make recycled products. It has also developed a recycling program where donors can earn money for their favorite nonprofit.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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