4 min read

Environmental Sustainability at Scale

Written by: Demir Vangelov, Soylent CEO

Here at Soylent, sustainability is a core part of our mission to make complete nutrition accessible, appealing and affordable to all. 

We work hard to make sure our products have the lowest environmental impact of all nutrition shakes on the market, and we build sustainability into the equation at every level of our efforts to feed an increasingly crowded planet.

This commitment to sustainability is a big reason why we use soy, a complete protein that uses fewer resources to grow. We’re proud to only use sustainable US-grown soy, which is far more eco-conscious than other plant protein sources and even soy grown elsewhere in the world. The fact that the main ingredient in our product doesn’t travel halfway across the world to reach our manufacturers also significantly reduces our overall environmental impact. 

Our thinking around sustainability extends far beyond our ingredients. We’ve also improved our packaging to make sure it’s easy to recycle. Other popular packaging materials, including beverage boxes, need to be sent to specialized facilities to be processed, which means that many of them, unfortunately, end up in landfills. While we are continuing our work on plastic recyclability, our bottles are 100% recyclable while still providing a long shelf-life for our products. Unlike other plastic bottles, our labels and caps can also be recycled. Just enjoy the product, place the cap back on and put everything in the recycling bin together. This is important because a lot of beverage bottles and boxes are not actually recycled – they just require consumers to jump through so many extra hoops.

That long shelf life is also a key part of how we think about sustainability at scale. When consumers think about sustainability, they often think about very small-scale producers working with organic, all-natural ingredients. As great as those products are, they only really work at the local level, because they typically have a short shelf life and need to be refrigerated.

That’s a major challenge when we think about how to feed a world of 10 billion people sustainably. There’s simply not enough arable land to support organic agriculture at that scale. And ensuring that products stay cold throughout their journey from manufacturer to customer can be difficult — particularly in parts of the world where refrigeration can be unreliable. It’s also enormously expensive and negatively impactful on the environment. 

Because Soylent’s products have a long shelf life and don’t require refrigeration, they are ideally suited to delivering complete nutrition to an ever-growing population. More than that, they’re affordable and taste great. To achieve sustainability at scale, it’s important to have a product that people actually enjoy, and that won’t break the bank.

To support our goal of creating products that are great for the planet, we had to take our efforts a step further. To support such a lofty goal, you need to build a successful business. You also need products that consumers like and choose to consume over and over again. Therefore, our efforts have been also concentrated on creating the best tasting plant-based shake possible. In 2020, we lowered our sugar content and improved our flavour technology. I’m happy to share that in recent blind taste tests, Soylent is now preferred over the most popular animal-based protein drinks on the market. Yet when consumers learned that Soylent is also more sustainable, their preference shot through the roof.

As we look to the future, we will continue optimizing our sourcing, manufacturing, and shipping practices so that they become even more sustainable. 

We believe that this is the key to achieving real, meaningful sustainability at scale — thinking through all aspects of production, from ingredients all the way to how products get into the hands of consumers. It’s not easy to have a minimal impact on the environment and still satisfy millions and millions of consumers who are searching for a convenient, healthy, delicious protein beverage, but we’ve proven that it’s possible. We hope that everyone in the plant-based industry continues with this holistic approach. Together, by making smart decisions, we can grow our businesses, provide complete nutrition to millions of people, and contribute to the long-term health of our planet. We know there is more we can do, which is why we continue to center this work at the core of our business model now and into the future.