June 5, 2018

Beating Plastic Pollution is About Transforming the Problem

This year’s theme for the United Nations World Environment Day is beating plastic pollution. An egregious and complex global problem, plastic pollution may not immediately seem relevant to the farming industry. At AeroFarms, we are fundamentally committed to the environment, and we started from its inception to be a mission-driven company honoring all of our stakeholders — our team, our communities, our partners and, most importantly, our planet. We are on a mission to be part of the solution for a better planet, and this means thinking differently about the problems at hand.

Reducing and Reusing First
Our initial journey all started with a remarkable insight into understanding plants and the fact that they don’t need soil. Rather, our seeds and plants sit on a growing cloth medium that we have patented for our proprietary growing technology using aeroponics to judiciously mist the roots with water and the 17 essential elements that plants need. We have reduced the water by 95% vs. the field and use zero pesticides. Our patented growing cloth medium is made of 100% recycled BPA-free water bottles that we reuse for years of subsequent growing cycles vs. traditional hydroponic growing mediums like mineral wool (which are both very energy intensive to make and are thrown away often after a single use due to phytosanitary concerns). With global headquarters in Newark NJ, we have built 9 indoor vertical farms to date, literally transforming millions of water bottles from the waste stream into miles of green and productive beds of growing.

And Finally, Recycling
In addition to growing advancements, we are helping champion a new line of packaging that uses 40% less plastic than traditional 2-piece packages. Made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, our packaging trays are also 100% recyclable. PCR plastic actually has a lower carbon footprint than plant-based plastics, which is a great place to start in the world of fresh, perishable produce. We recognize that we still have a long way to go, and will continue to focus on transformational innovations in the world of food packaging.

Closing the Loop
Today, AeroFarms is a Certified B Corporation with a transparent scorecard on both environmental and societal metrics of how we are doing not just in agriculture but also across industry sectors as well, and promoting how business can be a force for good. The circular economy and our relentless focus on eliminating waste is part of our company’s DNA. We were one of the first companies to sign on to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100, and our award-winning cleantech leader — CEO David Rosenberg is the co-chair for the Young Global Leaders Circular Economy Task Force for the World Economic Forum. AeroFarms has been honored to be recognized as one of the winners of the Global Cleantech 100 and Rising Star Awards and by Fast Company as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies and by Inc. as one of the Top 25 Disruptors (these are just a few of the awards and accolades this past year alone), but we have to take a moment to reflect and give thanks to our role models and mentors.

The Journey Continues 
Our team, our families, and thinking of the next generation and how we can do better are daily sources of inspiration that we are thankful for. We are also extremely grateful to an incredible roster of advisors who are thought leaders in their respective industries. On the environmental front, one of our key Board of Advisors is Bill McDonough who has been recognized by Timemagazine as our “Hero for the Planet” and who literally wrote the book on Cradle-to-Cradle and has been of one of the world leaders advocating for better environmental design. We are also fortunate to have as one of our independent Board Members Adam Lowry, founder of Method cleaning products and Ripple Foods, who has also had first hand experience with recovering plastic from oceans to create new packaging.

We too hope to serve as inspiration for further break-throughs and collaborations. We have to do better with less, and together we can and will make a difference. Learn more about our work @AeroFarms or see how you can join us in our journey.

Original Source: Medium