One of the world’s most beloved ice cream companies says that they will be phasing out all of their single-use plastic packaging over the course of the next year.
Following their elimination of plastic straws over the summer, Ben & Jerry’s announced earlier this week that they would also be kicking off the New Year by eliminating plastic spoons from their 577 stores worldwide.
Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry’s Global Sustainability Manager, is leading the transition. She noted that the company’s shops currently hand out 2.5 million plastic straws and 30 million plastic spoons every year. If all the plastic spoons used by Ben & Jerry’s in the US were placed end to end, they’d stretch from Burlington, Vermont to Jacksonville, Florida.
“We’re not going to recycle our way out of this problem,” she said. “We, and the rest of the world, need to get out of single-use plastic.”
Ben & Jerry’s first embarked on its plan to phase out single-use plastics in August after they started making their plastic straws available by request only. Many of their shops had already transitioned away from to plastic packaging by this time – but in the months leading up to Free Cone Day on April 9th, the company’s branches will now be completing the transition by replacing their plastic spoons with wooden alternatives.
By the end of 2020, Ben & Jerry’s says that they will have also replaced their clear plastic cups, plastic-lined cups, and plastic lids with biodegradable alternatives.
The company has a history of striving for more sustainable packaging solutions. Since 2009, their ice cream pints – or “tubs” as they’re known in the UK and Europe – have been made with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified paperboard. Because they are coated with polyethylene to create a moisture barrier, however, they are difficult to recycle, which is why Ben & Jerry’s plans on exploring other packaging options.
“Over the past year, we have begun an intensive effort to find a biodegradable and compostable coating that meets our product quality requirements,” said Evans.
“In the short term, eliminating plastic straws and spoons is not going to save the world,” she added. “But it’s a good start toward changing expectations. We’re committed to exploring additional options to further reduce the use of disposable items. This transition is the first step for us on a more comprehensive journey to eliminate single-use, petroleum-based plastic in our supply chain, and we look forward to reporting on our progress.
“Thankfully, Ben & Jerry’s has a baked-in solution to plastic waste: it’s called our Waffle Cone,” she concluded. “They’re yummy, convenient, and waste-free!”
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