Minimizing our impact on the environment
As one of the natural products industry’s largest manufacturers, NOW is keenly aware of our potential impact on the environment. We employ a variety of innovative methods and initiatives to minimize the carbon footprint of our business, one of which is the use of recyclable packaging materials.
With more than 1,400 natural products in our inventory, packaging materials are a major component of our manufacturing operations. Whether it’s a food, a supplement, a natural cosmetic or an essential oil, each product we offer has unique characteristics that require a specific type of packaging.
Recyclable product packaging materials NOW uses
Whenever possible NOW chooses to use these recyclable packaging materials. Not only are they recyclable, but these materials also possess special attributes that make them ideal for certain packaging applications, such as stronger barrier protection for products susceptible to moisture, or a tighter seal for liquid closures to better prevent leakage.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Plastic
Packaging Component: Bottles and closures (lids)
NOW Products with HDPE Packaging: Probiotics and sports nutrition powders (bottles) and essential oils (closures)
HDPE is highly versatile, with an excellent strength-to-density ratio, and it’s recyclable in both rigid and flexible forms. At NOW we use HDPE for a great variety of bottles and closures thanks to its excellent barrier protection.
The majority of curbside recycling programs in the United States today accept HDPE plastics, including bottles.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Plastic
Packaging Component: Closures (lids) and tubes
NOW Products with LDPE Packaging: Supplements, toothpastes and lotions
Low-density polyethylene or LDPE is a thermoplastic with properties similar to that of HDPE. LDPE is lighter and more flexible than HDPE, making it a better choice for certain applications. The low cost and excellent moisture resistance capabilities of LDPE make it the ideal choice for our bottle closures.
Like HDPE, LDPE is accepted by the majority of curbside recycling services in the United States.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Plastic
Packaging Component: Bottles and closures (lids)
NOW Products with PET Packaging: Supplements, protein powders and carrier oils
NOW’s most used recyclable packaging material by far is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The majority of our supplement bottles are PET. This strong, lightweight plastic is shatterproof and offers an excellent barrier against various solvents. It’s highly recyclable and fairly inexpensive, so you’ll see it used for many consumer goods. In fact, PET is only eclipsed by HDPE and LDPE as far as quantity recycled annually.
Like HDPE and LDPE, PET is accepted by many curbside recycling services in the United States today.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Plastics
Packaging Component: Film
NOW Products with PET/LDPE Film Packaging: Foods and powders
The low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics we use for bottles and closures are also used to make film for foods and powders that are packaged in single-serve packets. As covered above, both of these plastics have attributes that make them exceptionally suitable for use in packet film, including their excellent barrier protection and the fact that they’re highly recyclable.
Polypropylene (Homopolymer) (PPH) Plastic
Packaging Component: Closures
NOW Products with PPH Packaging: Powders
Polypropylene (homopolymer) or PPH is a thermoplastic with a good strength-to-weight ratio and an excellent combination of properties, including physical, chemical, thermal and more. PPH is superior to both LDPE and HDPE in terms of tensile strength and working temperature, but has a lower impact strength. PPH is ideal for our powder product closures because it’s hard, smooth surface resists bacterial colonization.
Corrugated Cardboard (CC)
Packaging Component: Case packs (boxes)
NOW Products with CC Packaging: Most finished goods
Like many consumer product manufacturers, NOW stores our finished goods in corrugated cardboard cases. These case packs are typically packed with 12 units per box, but this varies depending on the product.
Consumers who shop at retail will likely never see a corrugated cardboard case as the retailer unboxes case packs and sells the units individually. However, if you order larger quantities through mail order or other methods, you may receive NOW products in a corrugated cardboard case. All of the corrugated cardboard material used for our case packs is recyclable.
Packaging Component: Bottles
NOW Products with Glass Packaging: Essential oils, MCT oil and gourmet cooking oils
No acronym needed here! Glass has a long history of use as packaging for a variety consumer products thanks to its many desirable attributes. It’s the only widely used packaging material that’s been granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status by the FDA. It can be endlessly recycled, and it’s not porous or permeable, so there are no interactions between packaging and product, such as leaching.
We use glass bottles for our essential oils because most of them are volatile and highly concentrated, and will break down plastic over time. Glass bottles also better protect essential oils, helping maintain potency throughout the life of the product, and they’re better for preventing leakage as well.
Recycled Cellulose Paperboard
Packaging Component: Finished food cartons
NOW Products with CC Packaging: Powdered food mixes
Of all the packaging materials NOW uses, nothing comes close to the longevity of cellulose paperboard. Cellulose from various plant sources has been used as a paper substrate for thousands of years, dating back to ancient China. Cellulose paperboard is highly recyclable and we use it for the boxes you’ll find our food powders in, such as All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix.
Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS) Paperboard
Packaging Component: Finished product cartons
NOW Products with SBS Packaging: BetterStevia® and essential oil kits
Solid bleached sulfate or SBS is one of the most expensive and highest quality paperboard substrates available. It’s ideal for certain applications due to its excellent moisture barrier attributes, and is often used for higher-end products since the quality of images printed on SBS is typically better than other substrates.
Taking steps to recycle the unrecyclable
Despite our best efforts and intentions, recyclable materials are not always available for certain products. When this happens NOW partners with Terracycle®, a U.S.-based recycling company that takes non-recyclable and hard-to-recycle pre-consumer and post-consumer waste and converts it into finished goods. Currently Terracycle accepts toothpaste tubes and food and supplement pouches from NOW. Learn more about NOW’s partnership with TerraCycle.