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UK’s Better Nature Becomes World’s First Plastic-Neutral Meat-Alternative Company

Better Nature, a UK-based producer of tempeh, has partnered with rePurpose Global, a plastic credit platform, to become the world’s first plastic-neutral meat-alternative company.

“Due to the relatively complicated food safety aspect of tempeh production, it’s really difficult to remove plastic from its production and packaging,” said Amadeus Driando Ahnan-Winarno, co-founder and head of technology at Better Nature. “It’s something that really frustrates us as a team and we’re constantly working on. We’re particularly looking into how we could use recycled or renewable materials rather than virgin plastic. We’re making progress, but it will take a while to implement, so, in the meantime, offsetting the plastic we produce is a productive step.”

Related: Solving the single-use plastic problem with Emma Rose of FinalStraw

Until the company can reduce its own plastic usage, it’s working with rePurpose Global to contribute to the removal of the same amount of plastic from the environment that it uses. Better Nature makes monetary donations to rePurpose Global based on how much plastic it uses in packaging and shipping materials. That money is sent to rePurpose Global partner Waste4Change, a social enterprise in West Java, Indonesia. Waste4Change develops sustainable waste management systems to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills.

By supporting Waste4Change, Better Nature hopes to reduce the overall amount of plastic waste globally and ensure that it’s reused in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Waste4Change also provides jobs for more than 140 waste management workers and their families in West Java.

Related: Oglethorpe University senior has simple solution to better protect Hawaii’s dolphins

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product made from fermented soybeans. It’s a staple protein and a major industry in Java, where it most likely originated centuries ago. Boosting the plastic recycling industry in Indonesia helps protect waste-management employees from inhumane conditions and low wages. The Better Nature initiative boosts these workers’ income by making hard-to-recycle plastics more valuable, the company says, while supporting an experienced recycling social enterprise.

“At Better Nature, our mission is to do things the better way—for people, the planet and animals,” said Elin Roberts, co-founder and head of marketing at Better Nature. “But the better way is not always the perfect way; it’s about making whatever changes we can to get closer to our greater goals. As a start-up, it can be tricky to implement all the changes we want to from the beginning, but we’re working hard to be as sustainable as possible. Going plastic-neutral is a step in the right direction for us, and one we want to encourage more businesses to take.”

Related: University of North Carolina research explains why sea turtles eat plastic