As you may have guessed, one of the major reasons we have a big ol’ crush on Oatly is their incredible sustainability efforts. They have been a role model and a beacon for us as we calibrate and constantly improve our own sustainability initiatives, one of the most exciting parts of our commitment to the B Corp certification process.
Here’s the thing: building a business that prioritizes the health of the environment isn’t easy or convenient. It cuts into profits, it takes extra time and care. We’re proud that we’ve committed to treading a bit lighter on the earth, and in the two years that we’ve been working under the B Corp framework, have made measurable differences in the way that we operate. We’ve reduced plastic waste from our roasting operations by recycling all of our GrainPro bags, to the tune of around 20,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills this year alone. We’ve dramatically reduced the amount of water we use in our cold brew production, thanks to the hard work and innovations of our crew on 9th Street. We power our Portland headquarters entirely with solar power, and send our cold brew coffee grounds to a commercial composting facility, where they go on to lead a second (or third?) life as garden fertilizer.
Although they’re relatively new to North American shores, Oatly has been well-established in Sweden for decades, and has devoted much of their energy to developing and refining innovative sustainability practices on their home turf. To start? Where oatmilk starts, with oats. Oats are a high-fiber, no-gluten grain, and their low input needs mean that they can easily be worked into a farm’s crop rotation to help increase biodiversity and reduce topsoil loss (in fact, Oatly is working with corn and soy farmers in Iowa and MInnesota to do just that). On the coffee side of things, we are honored to work with coffee producers who prioritize the health of their farm’s biodiversity and the protection of the environment that is necessary for the success of their crops. Once it gets to us, we do our best to treat those precious beans with care and to minimize waste and emissions all the way through the roasting and cold-brewing process.
In making this special new thing with our Swedish-American pals, we are introducing a couple of new sustainability elements into our ready-to-drink line. The first is the product itself, made with those aforementioned oats, our delicious coffee, cold water, and not much else. The second is the packaging; it’s our first foray into working with Tetra-Pak, industry leaders in sustainable packaging. We’re sending our little cold brew-oatmilk babies out into the world in new, environmentally-friendly jackets, thanks to Tetra-Pak’s 100% recyclable (yes, even the caps) Prisma packaging. And lastly, the aseptic environment created by that special packaging increases the shelf life of the product, which we expect to reduce waste once the product is out of our hands.
We’ve already learned a huge amount about sustainability talk-walking since we started working with Oatly; you’ll see more from us on that front over the months and years to come.