“Many companies talk about these issues, but our commitment is embedded in our mission,” Beth Lambert, CEO at Herbalist & Alchemist, told NutraIngredients-USA. “These milestones are measurements that we are fulfilling all parts of our mission.”
She attributes much of the progress to the H&A Green Team, a coalition of employees dedicated to implementing the company’s ambitious sustainability initiatives as outlined in its 2022 Sustainability Report.
The road to zero waste
A certified B Corporation since 2010, Herbalist & Alchemist has committed to implementing environmental and social standards towards an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. To qualify for zero waste certification, it has succeeded in diverting 90% of non-hazardous solid waste from landfill through reuse, donation or composting.
For example, ice packs used to keep herbs fresh in transport are donated to local children’s camps and food pantries. Pallet straps are sent to an environmental artist who creates abstract works from debris, and 55-gallon barrels are upcycled as rain barrels and raised garden beds or donated to rodeo barrel racing events.
The company has also shifted to using smaller shipping boxes and non-toxic packing peanuts made from corn starch that biodegrade in water. Unusable and depleted plant material (also known as the marc) is composted at local organic farms.
“Since 2013, 59,000 pounds of marc diverted from landfill and composted into healthy soil!” the company shared in its sustainability report. “That means an estimated 13.4 tons of CO2 were sequestered.”
For hard-to-recycle waste streams, Herbalist & Alchemist has partnered with recycling platforms including Trex (to turn plastic bags and film into park benches) and Terracycle (whose Zero Waste Boxes saved an estimated 260 pounds of H&A label backings and shipping waste from landfills).
Carbon farming before it was ‘cool’
Founded in 1981, Herbalist & Alchemist highlights that it was championing “carbon farming before it was ‘cool’” by supporting small growers doing their part to protect the soil and biodiversity of their local ecosystems.
“[Our] mission is to develop, manufacture and distribute herbal supplements that are of the highest quality, manufactured from plant material that originates in harmony with the environment: organically grown, ethically wildcrafted or sustainably harvested,” Lambert said.
Ensuring this harmony with nature means sourcing based on seasonal availability, avoiding pesticides and exploring sources like wild-simulated growing models that guarantee the potency provided by the wild but also supply as wildcrafted harvests become less predictable.
“While it can be daunting for manufacturers to address some of these issues sustainably, there are tools out there to quantify and set a baseline,” Lambert added. “Once you have a baseline, you can address improvements. For example, the B Corp carbon estimator is very helpful. And when you see the progress you can make over time, you see the impact one company can make.”
Looking forward, the Green Team will continue to work towards completing B Corp recertification, organic certification of extracts, an order pickup system for local customers, vendor qualification, packing supply improvements and setting up recycling stations and collection areas at its new facilities.