Orgain is a nutritional company providing a range of organic protein products designed to support a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I’ve recently gotten back into running, and have found myself in need of a protein boost. Because I don’t eat red meat or fish, I figured the next best option would be supplements. Thus, I tried Orgain’s Plant Based Protein Powder--a company and product that deserves the credibility it receives. Rightfully so, Orgain prides itself on its organic, plant-based/grass-fed dairy-based image, working to provide healthy protein alternatives to its consumers.
This section is short and sweet thanks to the product’s short and sweet list of ingredients. Orgain protein powder is made with all natural, organic ingredients which are clearly highlighted on the nutrition label. These are all ingredients people can read and have comfort in consuming; likewise, the short list of ingredients limits resource use, transportation of materials, and greenhouse gas emissions during production.
The packaging is of greater concern as it is made of plastic. The container can follow one of two pathways once it’s empty, as it is durable enough for reuse, and is recyclable—seems fair. Unfortunately, although recycling has a positive connotation, it is not the most sustainable waste practice. Plastic recycling has astoundingly disappointing numbers, as only 9% of all plastic in the world is recycled. So, even though the container is viewed by a consumer as “green” when they see a recycle symbol, in the end it most likely will end up in the landfill doing no good for the planet. The most effective way to increase the product’s rating in this section is to switch to biodegradable or reusable packaging materials such as bamboo or glass. Fortunately, Orgain has constructed a green initiative which focuses on reducing environmental impact in its packaging. Since its launch in 2017, they have succeeded in doing so. In 2020, the amount of plastic used in protein powder containers reduced 40% while holding the same serving size. This plastic reduction saves 30,000 pounds of plastic and reduces CO2 emissions by 884,000 kg annually. Orgain’s green initiative has been successful and continues to advance in 2021.
Orgain does not disclose its process in making protein powder, which may be a drawback in regards to labor equity and the environmental impact of manufacturing. It is a relatively small, localized business in comparison to rival nutritional companies, so these processes should be more accessible. In order for Orgain to increase their rating in the manufacturing section, labor practices and manufacturing processes must be more transparent to consumers. The website does, however, provide the fact that all products and manufacturing facilities are found in the United States. This is a considerable aspect of sustainability, as having locally sourced ingredients lowers carbon emissions from transporting materials.
Orgain was founded by Dr. Andrew Abraham (M.D.), a cancer survivor who looked to create healthy, organic, enjoyable foods for all—from professional runners, wellness enthusiasts to cancer patients and everything in between. The company’s headquarters is found in Irvine, California and works under Butterfly Private Equity--a firm in Los Angeles, California that specializes in the food sector. Butterfly Equity’s vision is to promote food justice and provide hunger relief by investing in organic, sustainable agriculture/aquaculture practices and equitable food distribution. They have been involved in investing over $10 billion in companies ranging from the growth-stage to Fortune 500 Enterprises. Overall, both Butterfly Equity and Orgain have created an impact by advocating for organic, locally sourced food production, and addressing social equity. Unfortunately, one major aspect that neither company provides is information on their labor practices. This makes it difficult to grant a strong sustainability score, as not all aspects of production are accessible to the consumer. Once Orgain resolves its issues on transparency in its labor practices and progresses on its green packaging initiative, it will serve as a model for the direction the food industry must take to sustainably produce and serve the growing population.