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July 21, 2007

The soy milk situation: Write to Wildwood!

 

Send a short note to Wildwood! Read on to find out more!

Well, it’s looking like the only way to buy ready-to-drink refrigerated soy milk without plastic is to spring for the 1-quart carton of Wildwood soy milk. It’s more expensive that way. But the half gallon contains the same plastic spout and cap as the other brands. We’re also buying more packaging when we buy the smaller sizes.

So naturally, I wrote to Wildwood to ask why they feel the need to use a spout and cap on the half gallon cartons, and this is their response on 07/16/07:

The plastic fitment (spout) is mainly used to ensure that bacteria does not enter into the soymilk and cause spoilage. Cartons without the fitment are much more likely to spoil with the folded top once opened. Most consumers also find it more convenient.

“Hmm…” I thought to myself. “Hmm… is there some difference in the spoilage rate between cow’s milk and soy milk? Most cow’s milk cartons don’t have a plastic spout.” So of course, I sent a follow-up e-mail asking that question, as well as questions about the carton itself and whether or not the quart-size would remain spout-free in the future. The folks at Wildwood, as opposed to Silk, were very friendly and prompt answering my questions. Here is the full response with my questions in brackets:

From: “Pulmuone Wildwood Customer Service” customerservice@pmo.com
To: Beth Terry
Subject: RE: Soymilk
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 08:03:28 -0700

Hi Beth,
You’re quite welcome… answers:

[1) Does soy milk spoil faster than cow's milk? I hardly ever see the plastic spouts on regular milk containers, just soy milk.]

#1 spoilage depends on the introduction of bacteria.

[Okay, didn't really answer the question. Here is 2) Do you plan to continue to sell the quart-sized containers without the plastic spout?]

#2 For the time being, yes – that may change in the future, but it’s not been decided. From a market standpoint very few consumers still buy quarts (most have switched to half gallons) and fewer and fewer stores are willing to carry them since they don’t sell well.

[3) Is there plastic on the carton itself? I have been putting the carton in the compost container. Is that okay to do?]

#3 The carton is made by a company called TetraPak – here is what they say on composting: “Composting can be an option for managing carton waste, but not on a large scale. The paperboard component of beverage cartons is degradable under proper (wet) conditions. A study carried out by an Australian research organization found that finely shredded milk cartons incorporated into compost heaps decomposed in 12 to 15 weeks. This makes them suitable for composting programs, although not at a large scale. The final product can be used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer.”

Thanks so much for writing!
Take care,
Aaron @ Wildwood
P.S. Did you know we now have recipes on our website?
http://www.wildwoodfoods.com/

———————————————-

My experience so far is that Wildwood is a friendlier company than Silk (and less corporate.) Perhaps they would be receptive to a little consumer pressure. YOU can send an e-mail to Wildwood to let them know how you feel about the use of unnecessary plastic in their soy milk cartons!

Here is the URL for the Wildwood contact form: http://www.wildwoodfoods.com/contact_us.php

Or you can send an e-mail to customerservice@pmo.com.

If you do send an e-mail, please leave a comment to let me know. Who knows? Maybe we can make a difference.
 



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4 comments
Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Simone. I believe the flavor you are referring to is called umami, and it's now considered the 5th flavor (besides sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.) Kombu provides a natural source of glutamate, which might not be good for people who are sensitive to it. But I think I have no problem with it. The issue will be finding it plastic-free! Maybe Rainbow Grocery will have it in the bulk bin. They do have other types of dried seaweed.

Simone
Simone

Hey,I bought a soy milk maker recently and just thought I would leave a tip on how to create some yummy soy milk just by adding one ingredient.I use kombu stock when it calls for water in the milk-miking process. kombu stock is easy to make, there are recipes online.You may already know about kombu, but I think its a great tip for adding a subtle taste that is very hard to define.Great blog.Cheers, Simone.

Rachel
Rachel

I watched a fascinating special on TetraPak recycling in Brazil. They were reusing the material to make roofing tiles. If memory serves, TetraPak is made from plastic and foil with a thin layer of paper in the middle. The problem was to figure out how to separate the layers so they could be recycled. They ended up using super high temperatures to fry the paper layer, thus leaving plastic and foil that could be recycled separately. I wish I could reference the show more specifically, but we don't have TV and it was just something I found flipping through the channels in a hotel room once.

Michelle Verges
Michelle Verges

Hi Beth,Thanks for encouraging me to write a letter to Wildwood, which I submitted this afternoon. Below is a copy of my letter.:0)MDear Pulmuone Wildwood Representative,As a consumer of your products, I am writing to ask that you consider the removal of the plastic fitment from the soymilk containers. I strongly urge you to review the extant evidence on whether cartons without this fitment are more likely to spoil when opened. In addition, please reconsider your customers' values in relation to your product. Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of environmental issues and finding practical ways to reduce their waste. This concern for the environment has been shown by consumers’ shopping habits. For instance, more people are buying “green” products, which endorse a sustainable lifestyle. Consequently, the value of convenience is currently being challenged in many American households. As a conscientious patron to your product as well as to the environment, I strongly encourage your company to redesign the soymilk carton and market this product in a sustainable fashion. Trust me, your loyal customers will thank you for this eco-friendly change!Sincerely,Michelle Verges, Ph.D.Department of PsychologyIndiana University

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