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These Founders Are Proving That The Pet Food Industry Doesn’t Have To Harm The Planet

Avery Maloto

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Chippin Co-Founders Haley Russell and Laura Colagrande

For those unfamiliar with the size of the pet food industry, it can be shocking to find out that Americans spend around $31 billion annually to feed their pets. However, when accounting for the fact that almost 1 in every 2 US households own a pet, it becomes clearer as to how that market size came to be. While it seems obvious that the industry has a large influence on the American economy, the production of pet food is affecting other areas as well. In trending reports, it is becoming an increasingly important consideration that animal agriculture contributes to global warming. And as a result of raising billions of animals for the sole purpose of consumption, at least 0.65 giga-tons of CO2 emissions are produced each year, over two-thirds of the Earth’s agricultural land is used, and water sources are polluted. When focusing specifically on dog food, the majority of products are derived from chicken, beef, lamb, and other animal products. Unfortunately, this means that many pet food brands are contributing to the climate crisis as well. As co-founders Haley Russell and Laura Colagrande looked to start a pet food brand of their own, they kept this concern central to their mission. Their solution was Chippin, a company that makes snacks for dogs, albeit made with planet-friendly cricket protein.

We had the opportunity to chat with Haley and Laura to learn how Chippin’s business came to be and what the company is doing to further its dedication to sustainability.

Chippin founders have a personal connection to the problem

The journey for Chippin began when Haley realized she couldn’t find food options that were tasty, healthy, and planet-friendly for her dog, Wren. However, when she discovered Wren loved eating crickets, it paved the way for an entirely untapped market. 

From here, Haley and Laura created an entire company around the environmental need to modernize nutrition for pets. Turning to crickets as a food source, Chippin is working to make pet foods from a sustainable source of proteins. Needless to say, it is an idea that’s one of the first of its kind. 

Haley and Laura tell us that they’re driven by “the opportunity to bring a first of its kind suite of food products that are good for pets and planet.” They clearly understand the ramifications that the development of “traditional” pet food brings to the environment and are on a journey to prove that good pet food and sustainability shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

And they’ve delivered on that mission too. The co-founders told us that to date, over 5000 dogs have enjoyed Chippin, and the company has a less than 1% return rate. Only in their first year of operation, it sounds like the founders’ personal connection to the issue they’re trying to solve is paying off for them.

Forging unconventional partnerships

Outside of innovating on product, Chippin also has several interesting partnerships that have helped it get ahead. So far, there has been no indication that the company is currently working with traditional distributors like Petco, though it has a number of other notable partnerships with organizations across the globe to meet the environmental goals. Through collaboration with several other companies, the sustainable pet food brand is able to thrive in many different areas. Here are just three of them:

  • Packaging: Since its start, Chippin funded a program with TerraCycle to make its packaging recyclable. As a result, the company earned the highest level of Safe Quality Foods certifications thanks to its packaging and production partners.
  • Safety and Nutrition: Sourcing from the USA and Canada, Chippin is able to utilize quality ingredients to create human-grade cricket protein. Producing best-in-class foods, their products provide two times the amount of protein as traditional animal meats and more omega 3s than salmon.
  • Availability: Working with WeWork and local pet shops, Chippin expanded their company across the United States. As a result, they are now available for purchase from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to Portland. Not to forget, consumers are also able to buy directly from the company online as well.

Lots of work left to do for Chippin and beyond

Chippin is an environmentally-friendly pet owner’s dream. As a whole, the company is providing what can become a go-to resource for sustainable pet food. However, their work is only one part of a larger puzzle. 

Many companies are shifting to (and pioneering) sustainable ideas (cue Beyond Meat, among others). However, there is a desperate need for more effort. With major change needed before 2050, 2040, or even 2030, environmental solutions need to be created in every aspect of human living. Chippin is doing its part and could be at the frontier of the sustainability trend catching on in the pet food industry.  

Specifically, Haley and Laura tell us that “Each Chippin snack bite saves the equivalent of approximately a gallon of water in comparison to a traditional dog treat powered by beef or chicken. Chippin expects to save a quarter of a million gallons of water in its first year.” Despite this impressive metric, it’s going to be far from enough to truly move the needle; other companies need to get involved in start prioritizing sustainability as they do business in the pet food industry.

Funding and support roundup for Chippin

Since Chippin was founded, it has had several funding wins:

  • $55,000 won from a UPenn design competition (presumably in the form of a non-equity grant)
  • $45,000 from University VCs Rough Draft Ventures and Dorm Room Fund (under First Round Capital)
  • An undisclosed amount from angel investors, including Allison Barr Allen, Head of Global Product Operations at Uber and Angel Investor at Trail Run Capital

With the drive to capitalize on the trend of making pet food sustainable, as well as promising early-stage results, Chippin is a company that we’re eager to continue to follow and update you on.

Business

This Restaurant Giant Is Making An Ambitious Commitment To Sustainable Packaging

Avery Maloto

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With 12 Taco Party Packs and refreshing Baja Blasts, there is no question as to how Taco Bell attracts over 40 million customers each week in the United States. Unfortunately, each of these orders presents a more pressing issue: sustainable packaging. 

Each year, only 29% of all fast-food containers and packaging are recovered. The rest accumulates in landfills, unable to serve another purpose in their lifetime. Fortunately, Taco Bell wants to address the issue of sustainable packaging.

Kicking 2020 off with a bang, the fast-food giant recently released a plan promising a sustainable mindset. Here’s what its plan is all about.

Sustainable Packaging: Recyclable, Compostable, and Reusable Products Only

Last week, Taco Bell announced its goal to make all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 world wide. 

With 7,000 stores open across the globe, the company sits as one of the largest fast-food corporations in the world. However, with this comes great environmental responsibility. Fortunately, Mark King, Taco Bell’s CEO, is already preparing for the company’s future.

In his own words, “As Taco Bell expands its footprint, our responsibility to drive positive impact increases.”

Taco Bell CEO Mark King emphasizes his company's increased focus on sustainability. 
Credit: Washington Speakers Bureau
Taco Bell CEO Mark King emphasizes his company’s increased focus on sustainability.
Credit: Washington Speakers Bureau

King adds, “Our business growth in the last decade has positioned us to create change for good and implement creative solutions for our planet, our people and our food. We’re excited to shake things up and make 2020 even more about what matters most: our purpose”.

Fast-Food Giant Eliminates Chemicals and Adds In-Store Recycling Opportunities

In order to achieve its goal for sustainable packaging, Taco Bell is altering many of its products. 

Moving forward, several things such as fountain drink cups to paper bags will no longer have PFAS, Phthalates, and BPA. Despite being found in many food packaging, there is an unsettling link between these chemicals and multiple negative health effects.

For example, research suggests that BPA, or bisphenol A, may cause cancer and affect brain development in the womb.

By doing so, the brand strives to increase its products’ ability to be recycled, compostable, or reusable. Taco Bell did not release any information on what materials they will be using in its future packaging.

In addition to this, Taco Bell will also be offering sustainable in-store options in the near future. As of right now, these changes include implementing recycling and/or composting bins into all restaurants (where infrastructure permits).

However, there is a possibility that the restaurant will soon be supplying reusable food baskets for dine-in meals.

Taco Bell’s Previous Actions On Sustainable Packaging

In 2019, Taco Bell banned plastic straws from all of its locations in Romania and Moldova. Unfortunately, the company does not have any official commitments on bans involving plastic bags or foam containers.

Reducing Its Carbon Footprint

There is no doubt that Taco Bell is ringing in the new year with ambitious goals. However, this is not the first time that it has tried to implement sustainable goals. 

In 2019, the fast-food giant publicized 7 of its prioritized goals. Surprisingly, almost half of them can be attributed to reducing its carbon footprint.

For example, Taco Bell vowed to work to ensure that all its beef is sustainable, as well as to improve recycling efforts and include menu diversity for those leaning towards a plant-based diet

Although already having successfully launched new favorites like the Black Bean Crunchwrap, it seems like Taco Bell hopes to continue this momentum.

As another one of its 2020 goals, the company is currently striving to be the number one QSR for vegetarians.

Needless to say, environmental activists, vegetarians, and flexitarians around the globe are all happy for these announcements.

It’s Time For All Fast-Food Brands To Use Sustainable Packaging

With its efforts, Taco Bell is one of many fast-food restaurants to begin adopting a greener mindset. Working with similar ideas, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway have already made sustainable commitments. However, there is still room for improvement in this industry.

Although there are many options for companies to reduce their environmental footprint, there are a few ideas that should be implemented as soon as possible:

  1. Reduce packaging or use of plastic wherever possible.
  2. Ditch hard to recycle materials such as polystyrene.
  3. Like Taco Bell, offer in-store recycling opportunities.

By doing so, monumental change can quickly occur.

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JetBlue Airways Will Become Carbon Neutral By July 2020, Making It The First In US History

Avery Maloto

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jetBlue promises to become carbon neutral in July 2020.

This year, JetBlue Airways Corporation may become the first large U.S. airline to go carbon neutral.

As the quickest way around the world, the airline industry engages with over 4 billion individuals each year. However, it is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Shockingly, a singular commercial flight produces more carbon dioxide than the amount that some citizens produce in an entire year. Taking note of the situation, environmental activists are putting the travel industry under fire and calling out its contribution to climate change.

However, amidst all of the criticism, JetBlue is choosing to step up to the challenge.
In order to do so, the company is set to invest in eco-friendly projects across the globe.

JetBlue Goes Green With Fuel Choices

In a press release publicized on Monday, JetBlue vowed to mitigate emissions and go carbon neutral by July 2020. With expanding efforts, JetBlue can offset 15 to 17 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to removing 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road each year. 

As the leading project in its initiative, the company will be beginning to use sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco. Fortunately, the fuel is already fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology.

JetBlue commits to using sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco.
JetBlue commits to using sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco.

Sustainable fuels, or biomass fuels, are any fuels derived from a once-living matter. For example, wood, corn, and other waste from agricultural crops are used in its production. This provides a sustainable solution to fossil fuels being popularly used today. 

As of 2018, airplanes produce 11% of all CO2 emissions in the world and significantly contribute to climate change. However, by utilizing this alternative, JetBlue says that they can reduce each flight’s fuel carbon footprint by 80%.

JetBlue Makes Becoming Carbon Neutral A Group Effort

On top of its sustainable fuel swap-out, JetBlue stated that they will continue to partner with Carbonfund.org. As a U.S. nonprofit organization, Carbonfund.org focuses on reducing carbon emissions and creating climate solutions.

The airline company and the nonprofit have been working together since 2008. In the last 10 years, the two have already mitigated more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.

On top of this, JetBlue now has new carbon offsetting partners. Adding to the list, EcoAct and South Pole are working with the company to promote carbon-neutral travels. 

Airline Goes Green On Land Too

As part of its carbon offsetting program, the airline company is engaging with projects around the world to mitigate the overall need for jet fuel. Focusing on areas that will opt for eco-friendly, renewable resources, JetBlue is striving to lower emissions in the atmosphere when possible. 

Currently, JetBlue announced support of carbon offset projects such as:

  • Forest conservation by declining plans that will convert forests for other purposes.
  • Promoting landfill gas capture (LFG) and converting it into renewable energy resources. 
  • Developing solar and wind farms to replace the need for fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and furnace oil.

JetBlue did not disclose the cost of any of its sustainable programs.

Collaboration Pivotal in Becoming Carbon Neutral Industry-Wide

According to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, the solution to this problem is a community effort. 

JetBlue CEO wants other airlines to join in the fight to become carbon neutral.
JetBlue CEO wants other airlines to join in the fight to become carbon neutral.
Credit: Lori Hoffman/Bloomberg

“The airline industry is one of the few industries that has collectively committed to an international emissions reduction goal,” said Hayes. “Air travel brings so much good to the world and JetBlue has always been about making our essential industry better. Carbon offsetting is a bridge to, not a silver bullet for, a lower carbon future. Reducing and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect of our business plan and our mission to inspire humanity.”

Hopefully, JetBlue achieves its mission and inspires others to do the same. If several other companies follow JetBlue’s environmental initiatives, the future of airline travels may be promising.

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Spanish Energy Company Invests $500 Million In South Australian Renewable Energy Park

Rich Bowden

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Recently, Spanish renewable energy company Iberdrola announced that it would invest $500 million in an Australian renewable energy park. Set to be located in Port Augusta, South Australia, the 320MW hybrid solar and wind farm will be operational as soon as 2021. 

Why Australia for a New Energy Park?

Currently, Iberdrola already has over 30GW of installed capacity, in Europe, the US and South America. But at the moment, the company has very little presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Consequently, looking to Australia as a high-potential renewables market, Iberdrola believes its investment in the new energy park can be a good first step into the region.

Recently, Iberdrola’s Head of Renewables Xavier Viteri told Australian media outlets that his company has major plans for Australia. Indeed, Port August presents a great opportunity for wind power, and solar power is a formidable supplement, Viteri mentioned.

Perfect Location for Renewable Energy Park

According to DP Energy’s Australia Manager Catherine Way, the energy park in Port Augusta is “shovel ready”.

Based on the DP Energy website, the chosen location allows the project to optimize for balancing wind and solar generation. Moreover, its placement will allow for an approach that is more tailored to the needs of the electric grid.

Is the Australian Renewable Energy Market Coming Back?

South Australia is not new to renewable energy innovation. For instance, in 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk won a $65.5 million bet with the South Australian government by installing a massive 100MW battery in the state’s north within 100 days.

Iberdrola announced it will invest more in renewables throughout Australia. The announcement has boosted the Australian renewable energy market, which has experienced a recent downturn.

The question is: will Iberdrola’s new $500 million investment be enough to encourage other companies to bring back the Australian renewable energy market?

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