Sweet Street is a food company that focuses on making organic, sustainable, individually-wrapped desserts like cookies. It especially seems to take pride in its “Manifesto” line of desserts like cookies and brownies which feature healthier, higher-quality ingredients. Despite its innocent packaging, website, and ingredient guarantees, Sweet Street’s environmental and social sustainability efforts seem to be limited to only actions that won’t sacrifice profit, leading to vague products sourcing guarantees, half-measures in production practices, and cherry-picked information about social impact and working conditions. For all of the goals it sets and promises it makes, Sweet Street certainly has room to improve.
Given that most of their desserts are individually-wrapped, Sweet Street makes a strong commitment to use mostly sustainable packaging. 95% of all plastic packaging is recyclable, and 46% of the fiber used to make corrugated cardboard packaging was previously recycled. But there is no information about what percent of the entirety Sweet Street’s packaging is recyclable, or what percent of all of its packaging is made of plastic. As for the cookies themselves, Sweet Street uses only rBST-free dairy (hormone free), cage-free eggs, and other sustainable ingredients. However, Sweet Street does not elaborate on the “sustainability” of these ingredients, and notably does not inform customers about how it sources its chocolate. Sweet Street claims to build relationships with its diverse array of vendors to “cajole some of the largest ingredient suppliers in the country to change their path,” but gives no specific examples of suppliers or changed paths. While this goal may be ambitious and noble, it seems less impactful in the short term than buying from suppliers who are already sustainable in the first place.
Sweet Street recycles all of its paper and most of its cardboard, aluminum, metals, and plastics as fuel to generate electricity at a nearby power plant, which conserves gas and reduces emissions. It currently has a goal to make all of its cardboard recyclable as well. Sweet Street also captures heat released by product cooling systems to heat its plant and buildings in Reading, PA in the cooler months. It also conserves 30% of the electricity and natural gas used in production, and new energy-efficient lighting has recently reduced energy consumption by 50%. Excess oil and fat waste is also reused as pig food for a local farmer. All of these initiatives are certainly impactful in a positive way, but Sweet Street still has further to go when it comes to sustainable improvements. Notably, the company makes no mention of renewable energy use, as it likely uses primarily fossil fuels, being located in the fossil-fuel rich state of Pennsylvania. There is also no mention of any sustainable shipping or product transportation practices. Sweet Street does research innovative conservation strategies and seems committed to making more improvements in the future, but likely only as long as the sacrifices made for the sake of sustainability are minimal.
Sweet Street owner Sandy Solomon has made several commitments when it comes to the social and community impact of her company. This includes fundraising efforts with local schools and student organizations and donating to the arts via relationships with local boards in Pennsylvania. These efforts seem positive, but there is no indication of their success or scale. For its employees, Sweet Street offers scholarships to children of its workers, invests in safety training and disease management, gives opportunities for paid employee education and skill development, and boasts a Safety Committee for ergonomics and other workplace initiatives. Still, these benefits don’t appear to be a holistic view of what it’s like to work for Sweet Street, as the company provides no information about wages, working hours, or insurance plans.