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Clif Bar Wants to Create a Compostable Wrapper

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
Clif Bar

Clif Bar & Co. recently committed to make all of its packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. That includes the wrapper for its signature Clif Bar: The company says it already has a cross-functional team in place to develop a compostable alternative by 2021.

Shifting to compostable wrappers will “move [Clif Bar] away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward the vision of our sustainability mantra: ‘Think like a tree,’” Elysa Hammond, the company's vice president of environmental stewardship, told TriplePundit. “Trees run on renewable energy, recycle all waste, and sustain and improve the places they grow.”

Clif Bar's long commitment to reducing plastic in packaging

The company bills this pledge as its “boldest, most urgent commitment yet.” And perhaps it is when you consider Clif's 2025 goals: Beyond the recyclability commitment, Clif pledged to source at least 25 percent of the plastic it uses in packaging from renewable or recycled materials and use 10 percent less packaging overall.

Preventing plastic pollution is key to reducing ocean plastic waste. Every year, at least 8 million tons of plastic waste enter oceans. Clif wants to “prevent plastic waste wherever possible, and as far upstream as we can,” Hammond said. That will happen with “a mix of education, advocacy, and creative solutions across our operations and supply chains,” she added.

Long focused on sustainability, there are several examples of how Clif is already working to prevent plastic pollution. The company is working on achieving zero-waste certification at its bakeries (including the one located in Twin Falls, Idaho, shown above). It is not just striving to prevent plastic pollution in its manufacturing facilities but in all of its operations. It is working to reduce and avoid single-use plastics at outdoor events it sponsors.

As the initiative grows, the company will be “speaking up in support of effective policies that keep plastic bags and other forms of plastic waste out of the environment," Hammond told us.

Educating consumers and partnering with organizations

Clif’s two other 2025 commitments center around education and environmental cleanup. Clif Bar will add the How2Recycle label, a standardized labeling system with recycling instructions, to its packaging to give customers more information about proper disposal.

The company also committed to remove 1 million pounds of plastic from the environment. To achieve that goal, Clif has already brought together employees, athletes, industry, and partners to work on environmental cleanup efforts. The company partners with organizations such as Living Lands and Waters to clean up the Ohio River, for example.

“Through events like these, we’re hoping to raise awareness on the issue of plastic pollution and ultimately change minds and habits,” Hammond explained. “We will be working with our existing partners and building new relationships with organizations on the ground.”

A long journey to making packaging more sustainable

Clif’s journey to make its packaging more sustainable began in 2001 when it introduced Clif Shot Energy Gel with Litter Leash packaging, which has a tear top that folds out of the way during use but stays attached to minimize litter on trails and roads. A year later, the company redesigned the boxes that hold its bars to eliminate 90 percent of shrink wrap, which avoids the use of over 90,000 pounds of plastic a year. In 2003, Clif switched to 100 percent recycled paperboard in these boxes.

The company redesigned its Clif Bar wrappers to be 10 percent smaller in 2015. Two years later, it began using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard for about 90 percent of the boxes that hold its bars. And it seems compostability is next on this journey — and we'll keep our eyes peeled. 

Image credit: Clif Bar & Company Press Room

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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