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Now Plastic Neutral!

Hello! I am Dale Barnes. I have worked with Amavida Coffee Roasters as a barista from 2017-2020. Before working at Amavida, I was a regular. I used to go to the St. Andrews cafe location every day after school. As a regular I was always drawn to Amavida as a company because of the things that they do for the environment and their community. Working for Amavida I learned a lot more about all the things that they do behind the scenes to give back to their community. Amavida is a company that I really care for which is why I am thrilled to help make a very exciting announcement… As you can tell by the title, the big news is that Amavida is now Plastic Neutral!

I know what you are thinking ‘What does it mean to be Plastic Neutral?’ Recently I got the chance to speak with the people from Amavida who led the project and I made sure to get to the bottom of all the questions you may have about plastic neutrality.

First Let’s Answer The Question “What Is Plastic Neutral?”

We learned from our friends at rePurpose Global – the certifying company Amavida partnered with to become plastic neutral – that Plastic Neutrality is achieved by sustainable businesses who dedicate a percentage of each product a company sells to fund the recovery of the same amount of plastic from nature. This includes plastics used in the making and packaging the product, as well as any workplace operations. This is also known as offsetting your plastic footprint.

Removing the waste from landfills, the ocean, or other places it might go allows it to then be repurposed. This is done with the help of organizations like rePurpose Global and through collaboration with waste management companies whom they call their “Impact Partners”. Together they ensure that the plastic consumption of a company or individual is properly measured and taken out of the environment. Amavida is dedicated to 100% of their plastic output being recovered and recycled. With the help of rePurpose Global, Amavida has calculated their complete plastic consumption from 2019. Then, with the assistance of their impact partners at Taka Taka Solutions, they are able to ensure the removal of an equal amount of plastic from the environment.

Why Did Amavida Decide To Go Plastic Neutral?

I know if you’re anything like me I always want to know ‘why’, so this was my first question for the people at Amavida. In my conversation with the team I learned that the reason Amavida wanted to become Plastic Neutral is because doing better for the environment has always been one of their main goals.

Dan Bailey, the owner and founder of Amavida expressed, “after becoming carbon neutral we wanted to push ourselves to be better for the environment.” One of the things that kept him up at night was the plastic consumption of his company. He wanted to come up with ways in which the company could reduce the use of plastic. This was also echoed in my interview with Caroline Bailey. When she was asked why Amavida decided to go Plastic Neutral her words really stuck with me:

“Amavida always strives to improve on ourselves to become better for our environment. So, Plastic Neutrality was another step in becoming a greener more sustainable company.”

Eventually, between some research and the stars aligning, Amavida found rePurpose Global. They offered a better understanding of plastic waste measurement, recovery and reclamation. So, Amavida embarked on the journey of becoming Plastic Neutral.

Who Is rePurpose Global? What Do They Do?

I know we have already talked a lot about “rePurpose Global” and I bet you’re wondering who they are. The best way I can describe them is with a quote from their website, “repurpose Global is the World’s First Plastic Credit Platform dedicated to reducing waste, reviving lives and restoring natures balance.” In other words, rePurpose Global is a Delaware based B Corporation who, in collaboration with conscious consumers and businesses, finance removal of ocean bound plastic while providing socio economic mobility to marginalized waste workers worldwide.

RePurpose Global is on a mission to make the transition into being Plastic Neutral extremely simple for companies and individuals. On their website they have the option to calculate the plastic consumption of a company or individual. After the calculation and dedication to the percentage you want removed, they will work with waste management companies to ensure the clean-up and recycling of an equal amount of plastics. According to Dan Bailey, one of the things that really drew Amavida to rePurpose Global was the fact that they have a plan to reach a Global Certification on being Plastic Neutral. Plus, when it came to core values “we really gelled with them,” Dan added.

Who Is Taka Taka Solutions?

I have also talked about Taka Taka Solutions a lot so far and here is a short summary of them! Taka Taka Solutions is the Impact Partner that Amavida and rePurpose Global will be working with to ensure the removal and reuse of the plastic waste that is being put out. Taka Taka Solutions is the largest end to end waste management company in Kenya. They are the only waste management company in Nairobi with a vertical-integrated supply chain, which allows them to make sure that the waste is being properly removed and reused.

What Was The Process Of Becoming Plastic Neutral Like?

Surprisingly, or well unsurprisingly since rePurpose Global makes the transition very simple and smooth it only took Amavida about one month to do the whole calculation process. The company started working on the transition a couple months ago, in Summer 2020, with the help of Caroline Bailey and Madison Daum. From what all of them have said majority of the process was just learning about the different types of plastic. Madison said the more they learned and started writing everything down the easier it became to document and track all of the plastic that is being used.

Was There Anything Surprising During The Process?

A question that I thought would give more information about the process and also help myself and others to make a transition to becoming plastic neutral. From my interview with Dan Bailey, it seemed like he had been thinking about this a lot and researching solutions for quite some time. I mean he did state it was keeping him up at night. So, there was very little he found surprising. Also, with Amavida being a B Corp company and one of their main goals being helping the environment I am sure that the amount of plastic that was being consumed was a big issue for Dan. He is continuously taking steps to make sure that his company is lowering their plastic consumption as much as a coffee shop and roaster can. One thing that Madi shared in reply to this question was that “you are going to be surprised by how much [plastic] you use.” She then told me about her own personal experience with calculating her plastic footprint on rePurpose Global’s website.

Any Advice To Others Wanting To Become Plastic Neutral?

As for advice, the big thing that Amavida wanted to tell other businesses and individuals is to start learning about the different types of plastic, understanding their impact on the environment, and seeking ways in which people can reduce their plastic footprint. Going Plastic Neutral isn’t just for big businesses or wealthy individuals. With the calculator on rePurpose Global’s website an organization or individual can figure out how much plastic is being consumed. They can easily become more conscious of the plastic that they are using and the impact that it has on the environment. One does not have to go full fledge plastic neutral if it is something you cannot afford. Consider going 30% (more or less) and then continue going up from there. We are all in this together to help restore planet earth! So, every little bit helps.

How Much Plastic Does Amavida Coffee Roasters Use?

I know a juicy question, but I am a curious cat, so I had to know. Considering the size of Amavida – four cafes and a micro roaster plus the businesses they supply coffee to – it is was bound to be a high number, but not nearly as high as it could have been. The final number weighed-in at 16,778 pounds (or 7,610 kgs) of plastic. While this is still a lot of plastic, remember this is 100% of Amavida’s output. They are very excited to be announcing that they are both Certified Plastic Neutral Product and Workplace.

Now, What Do “Certified Product” and “Certified Workplace” Mean? How are they different?

Well, a Certified Plastic Neutral Product means that Amavida is offsetting any plastic material found in their product packaging. For Amavida this is primarily the coffee bags used to store fresh roasted coffee beans. This actually accounted for the smaller portion of their footprint. Being a Certified Plastic Neutral Workplace means that items that Amavida uses within the company are also being accounted for. Pretty much anything outside of product packaging. From the milk jugs at the cafés to the trash bags used at their roaster and coffee training lab, they are offsetting it all! Meaning anytime you go get a coffee or purchase a product, no matter what item you choose, the plastic is going to be offset.

Does Being Plastic Neutral Affect The Customer’s Experience?

The simple answer to this question is no it will not change a customer’s experience at all. But it is a great chance to open up a topic about the plastic consumption that is going on in the world, and ways that Amavida and individuals in general can do their part in helping out the environment. Amavida is hoping that through their experience becoming Plastic Neutral it will help inform people on this topic, since it is a new process. According to Caroline Bailey, “I believe that Plastic Neutrality as well as other parts of Amavida, such as Fair Trade and even Carbon Neutrality, allow the customer to feel good about what they are purchasing.” She continued “It also gives them a choice to buy something that [will] benefit their community and environment than over something else.”

I am very thankful to Amavida for allowing me to make this announcement! It was very lovely to get to chat with, Dan, Madi, and Caroline who all worked on this project. After talking to them and doing my own research into Plastic Neutrality, I have been more conscious about my plastic consumption and ways in which I can reduce my own plastic footprint. I am hoping that with this article it will help other businesses or individuals become more aware of their plastic consumption. Even something as simple as being aware of your plastic output as both an individual and a consumer offers the potential for radical change, a change that can help save our planet and our environment. As citizens of Earth, we all have a responsibility to take care of our home planet, and even small changes can have big impacts. Amavida’s decision to go full plastic neutral inspired me, and I hope that it inspired you too!