Our Letter to the Wall Street Journal on Plant-Based Products

Given the recent push by producers of petroleum-based plastics to position their products as newly essential during the global pandemic, and the stories of stalled or reversed bans and taxes on single-use products from localities around the country, you might assume all businesses are abandoning their sustainability commitments, as John Stoll suggested in a recent column in the Wall Street Journal.

But that’s just not so. Many companies, including members of the Plant Based Products Council, are as committed as ever to efforts to adopt sustainable, plant-based products and packaging. That’s because these companies know that, once this pandemic is over, our reliance on petroleum-based plastics will remain both environmentally unsustainable and detrimental to our long-term economic growth. Not to mention that many plant-based alternatives provide the same health and safety benefits as legacy plastics while also offering a much lower environmental footprint.

We submitted a letter to the editor to the Wall Street Journal making this basic point. They ignored it. But we believe the public deserves to know that there are still many companies out there who dedicated to creating a truly circular economy.

Here is what we wrote:

To the Editor:

In regard to John Stoll’s recent column, “Sustainability Was Corporate America’s Buzzword. This Crisis Changes That,” suggesting the COVID-19 pandemic is curbing corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts, many business leaders would argue the exact opposite. 

At a time when our country is taking a long overdue look at supply chains, we should be closely examining our reliance on petroleum-based products, like plastic. This crisis offers an opportunity to invest in more environmentally friendly plant-based alternatives, produced as part of the domestic bioeconomy, an enormous source of untapped economic potential. In the past decade, the U.S. bioeconomy has been expanding at an annual rate of more than 10%, contributing roughly $459 billion of value to the U.S. economy in 2016, with companies like Cargill, NatureWorks, and PepsiCo leading the way. 

Yet, the U.S. continues to lag far behind competitors in Europe and elsewhere which have looked over the horizon and promoted regulatory and economic policies that allow for investment and growth in their country’s bioeconomies. Just last week, European Union leaders called for climate policy to guide economic recovery measures after the coronavirus pandemic.

In the midst of this global pandemic and economic depression, there is a critical opportunity to unleash billions of dollars in new investments and return the focus to job growth in the American heartland. We need leadership from federal, local, and state governments in order to unlock the potential of this growing industry. 

Jessica Bowman
Executive Director
Plant Based Products Council