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The Tale of One-Use Bulk Ingredient Buckets: Upstream and Downstream Supply Chain Consequences

Ever wonder how ingredients get shipped to bakeries and restaurants around the world? More often than not, everything from sugar to eggs to premade icing gets pumped into 3.5- or 5-gallon buckets and shipped to your local grocery store bakery, corner cafe, or favorite restaurant to be turned into tasty treats. What's not so sweet? The plastic left behind.

Bulk ingredient buckets in a grocery cart

Where the Story Begins

These one-use bulk ingredient buckets are typically manufactured from plastic, a material notorious for its detrimental impact on our planet. The production process involves extracting raw materials such as petroleum or natural gas, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. In fact, the production of one ton of plastic generates approximately 1.8 tons of CO2 emissions. Not just this, but the transportation of these buckets adds to the carbon footprint, further exacerbating the environmental strain and this staggering waste dilemma.

Plastic's Lingering Legacy

Follow these buckets downstream and witness the repercussions of their disposal. Once emptied, a significant portion of these containers ends up in landfills, forming vast mountains of wasted potential. Why not just recycle them? Many stores don't clean out the food waste on the inside of the bucket, making it unfit for recycling facilities. And, the ones that do make it 100% clean of food debris only have a 4% chance of getting recycled if they actually make it into a facility.

Plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose, leaching harmful chemicals into the soil and water, even if tucked away inside a landfill. Plus, the inefficient management of landfills consumes valuable resources and land space, perpetuating the cycle of waste generation and environmental degradation.

Brill icing buckets

The Circular Waste Economy and Let's Go Compost

Enter Let's Go Compost, the 501(c)3 registered non-profit ready to create change! Our team of volunteers transform one-use bulk ingredient buckets into free worm compost bins and school gardens. Through the principles of the circular waste economy, we disrupt the linear "take-make-dispose" model, forging a regenerative approach to waste management. Until the big bucket business is ready to take on a fully circular refill model for their ingredient buckets, Let's Go Compost is here to help businesses reduce their plastic waste while teaching the public about how to compost in their home.

A Two-Part Waste Reduction Impact

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy has the potential to reduce global plastic waste by 78% and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2050. Let's Go Compost is at the forefront of turning these statistics into reality. When one-use bulk ingredient buckets become worm compost bins, they facilitate the creation of nutrient-rich compost. This compost, derived from organic waste and aided by the industrious work of worms, becomes a powerful tool to nurture our ecosystems. The resulting compost is a natural fertilizer, teeming with beneficial microorganisms that enhance soil health, improve water retention, and boost plant growth. By utilizing this compost in gardens, farms, and urban green spaces, we foster a regenerative cycle of nourishment and growth, closing the loop on organic waste.

Girl holding compost bin on shoulder

Take Action

Embracing the circular waste economy goes beyond upcycling buckets; it's about reimagining waste as a valuable resource. It's about designing products with durability, recyclability, and reuse in mind. It's about shifting our mindset from a linear "take-make-dispose" approach to one that values regeneration, sustainability, and the well-being of our planet. We invite you to spread the word about Let's Go Compost and our groundbreaking initiative by encouraging businesses to donate their buckets and become part of the circular waste economy movement. Together, we can pave the way for a more sustainable future.

And, if you would like a free worm compost bin from Let's Go Compost, you can do so by signing up here.

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