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Groundbreaking Soil Packaging Uses 100% Recycled Content

Back to the Roots is switching to certified circular, 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic bags from ProAmpac for its best-selling organic potting soil.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

September 20, 2023

3 Min Read
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Back to the Roots

Organic gardening brand Back to the Roots is digging deeper into sustainability by transitioning its best-selling Organic Potting Mix to bags made of certified circular, 100% post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR).

It’s claimed as first in the soil category. Notably, the PCR leverages material from an advanced recycling process.

Back to the Roots has blossomed as a sustainability pioneer, with its roots firmly embedded in a 100% organic promise and innovative Grow Kits crafted from upcycled coffee ground waste. In recent times, the company has cultivated further eco-friendly endeavors, including the use of PCR-based materials in its Plant Food & Wildflower Seed Mix Packaging, Hydroponic Grow Kit, and Seed Starting Trays.

Bringing recycled content into the soil category, however, has been a tough challenge given the unique environmental demands on the packaging.

For this launch, Back to the Roots is leveraging new recycling technologies recently pioneered by leading consumer brands such as Kind Bar, Mars, Mondelez, and Unilever to push the Lawn & Garden industry forward.

The company partnered with ProAmpac to develop the 100% PCR packaging. The recycled material was determined via Global ISCC PLUS Certification (Institute of Sustainability & Carbon Certification). This widely recognized international sustainability certification uses a mass-balance approach to verify the quality and authenticity of the recycled material along the supply chain from waste feedstock to the final product.


"ProAmpac, as an innovator of sustainability and a circular economy in material usage, is proud to leverage our ISCC-certified supply chain to offer advanced recycled PCR content,” says Gary Koellhoffer, Product Manager at ProAmpac, who refers to the material by the new acronym cPCR. Presumably, the "c" comes from the synonymous term chemical recycling used for advanced recycling.

"Ensuring the technical and durability needs that outdoor environments require," continues Koellhoffer, "cPCR performs at the same high level as virgin resin-based film. Back to the Roots is a brand partner who shares our sustainability goals, and their adoption of advanced PCR content in the Lawn & Garden industry is inspiring. This launch sets the trend, pushing more brands across the industry to embrace cPCR and work towards greater sustainability in packaging.”

Back to the Roots sees a greener future for soil packaging.

The company is sowing the seeds of change, nurturing a more sustainable future for the soil industry and beyond. For example, it envisions landscape with less reliance on traditional packaging and more emphasis on at-store refillable totes.

“When it comes to sustainability and minimizing our environmental footprint, we feel like you’re never really ‘there’— it’s just a path you commit to in order to get a bit better each day and not settle for the status quo,” says Nikhil Arora, Back to the Roots Co-Founder and Co-CEO. “This launch is a huge step for the soil industry towards getting better and helping reduce the 100s of millions of pounds of virgin plastic being used each year. Acknowledging the fact that only about 5% of all plastic ends up recycled and soil packaging is traditionally landfilled, we challenged ourselves on how to try to make our bags out of recycled materials to start the road towards a circular plastic economy,”

Adds Alejandro Velez, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, “When we think about reducing the footprint of our soil packaging, we go back to the fundamentals we learned in elementary school: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is just the start of our journey towards a more sustainable soil category. We ultimately envision a world where our community can bring back their own reusable totes into stores to fill up with soil year after year after year; but in the meantime, we want to reduce and recycle — each bag we sell should use less and less drilled oil/gas and virgin plastic.”

“We believe that small actions can inspire waves of change when done with a purity of intent and purpose,” says Arora. “We’re excited to keep on pushing to get better every day and collaborating with our industry friends to turn this into a sea-change moment for the category.”

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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