Whale Tails Tortilla Chips started producing a whale tail shaped tortilla chip in 2007 amidst the beginnings of America’s social media revolution. A time of accelerated economic, social, and political change where a company’s business model is constantly viewed and instantly reviewed.
Our fast growing local company has become widely recognized for operating it’s business using the emerging green technologies of biomimicry and nanotechnology to solve pressing environmental issues. Rick Grant, an avid surfer and one of our company’s co founder, likes to call our company’s innovative approach to healthy snacking as “Imagigration” which is a combination of both Imagination and Integration.
A Surfer’s Approach to Stewardship
Rick Grant describes “Imagigration” as an idea looking for a practical application. The difference between a good idea and a great idea is the degree to which it can be integrated into a system or process, thus completing the loop. Whale Tails has employed “Imagigration” and created a product that provides form, function and flavor and we have packaged it in a bag that will return to the Earth regardless of how it is disposed of. To that end we have used biomimicry to create our shape, use unaltered organic nutritional ingredients for our flavors and we have made a commitment with each bag we sell to promote stewardship and education for our planet.
Surviving in Today’s Economy
At Whale Tails Chips we continue to set ourselves apart from other snack food companies. As both surfers and eco entrepreneurs we refuse to be seduced by marketing firms and raw material suppliers who engage in “green washing” practices. Everyone is looking for sustainable solutions today, but the bottom line is it is going to require new technology. Ric Kraszewski local OB surfer and our VP of Sales understands that “real solutions will come from making it more convenient for our customers to participate in conserving our planet and not by making it more difficult for them. These economic times are already hard enough on consumers.
Real Solutions Not Marketing Spin or “Green Washing”
At Whale Tails Chips we have found that sometimes there is “wisdom in waiting”. Making plastic bags from corn is not the solution we all hoped it would be. The plastic is made from genetically modified corn which isn’t fit for human consumption. Land that should be used for growing food crops is being diverted to grow federally subsidized corn crops that are used for ethanol and PLA plastic. Countries that rely on importing our grains are now cutting down large tracts of forests, including rain forests in the Amazon to grow both corn and sugar cane to make bioplastics. Food prices have also increased since our government has decided that we should support the corn for fuel program. Growing corn for PLA and ethanol is also increasing the use of pesticides which is having an adverse affect on our fresh water supplies while creating dead zones in our oceans.
Municipalities that recycle plastic bags regard these plant based biodegradable plastic bags as contaminants in their waste stream. Recycled plastic products containing biodegradable plastic are structurally compromised and thus commercially worthless. It takes more energy to produce a biodegradable plastic bag than a petro-plastic one. As a result, they are more expensive and cause more CO2 emissions in their manufacture.
It has even been shown that certain brands of “compostable bags” don’t actually break down as advertised. Bags made from cornstarch are showing up barely changed after months and months of being buried in dirt mounds. One of the most widely used substances at issue is “compostable plastic” derived from corn starch or sugar cane that is being used to make the film layers of potato and tortilla chip bags. The National Organic Standards Board, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, considers bio-plastics to be “synthetic” products. When food based plastics are in a compost pile the resulting compost can no longer be used in organic agriculture. This is because the USDA, the ultimate authority, doesn’t consider these bio-films to be organic. Bio-films from a food source seem to have societal problems as well. In addition to an increase in pesticide and herbicide use to grow plants for plastic, rising food prices have been directly linked to the unrest that has swept through the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. These uprisings, called for greater freedoms in addition there were complaints about unaffordable staple food prices.
Bio-films for chip bags are also now being made from wood pulp. But these wood pulp fibers are subjected to baths of sulfuric acid, sodium sulphate to reconvert viscose into cellulose resulting in pollution of our water with these chemicals.
Bio- films at a thickness layer of 0.8mil or less will biodegrade and compost under ASTM 6400 standards. However a chip bag needs several layers of these films laminated together with adhesives to create a finished bag. A finished chip bag is at least 3.0 mil thick so it is probably a little disingenuous to say that the “bag” complies to the standards of ASTM 6400.
Plastic trash is a huge issue in our state in terms of landfills, coastal waters, and rising prices. We spent three years studying the issue and our research has shown that in California 80% of chip bags end up in landfills and only about 20% of residents compost and / or recycle. So there is no sense in making a bag that is only “compostable” and then send it to a landfill where it will last just as long as the regular chip bags.”
Whale Tails Chips has worked with TekPak Solutions of Canada to create a Bio-film that can biodegrade almost anywhere. Backyard Compost, Aerobic or Anaerobic Landfills, Rivers, Lakes and Oceans. All communities in the world can safely dispose of chip bags with this additive. It is also Recyclable.
Microbes are Nature’s janitors and they have been cleaning up for centuries.
Our method allows everyone to be Green. It is dependent on microbial activity only. Our additive, when combined with microbes in the soil or water creates enzymes that break down the long-chain molecules in plastics to allow the microbes to digest them and revert to their original components of CO2, water and a small amount of organic biomass. All of which are beneficial to plant growth.
Our additive is completely organic. It has unlimited shelf-life with no effect on properties or performance of the finished material. In most cases it is beneficial to the performance.
It is FDA (U.S.) and SCF (E.U.) compliant, has been studied and approved by many Universities in the U.S. and around the world. The leading Environmental Biologist in Europe recommends our additive as the only viable consumer solution available.
Rick Grant says “the consumer plays an active and important role in the sustainability loop and their choices are essential. The consumer’s choices either complete the process or allow it to break down into what becomes just another marketing spin. Let’s make sure the Earth is the only thing spinning at the end of the day and we leave our children a home that they can enjoy for many generations to come.”
Our goal is to start reversing environmental pollution, including the global pollution of plastics in both he North Pacific and South Atlantic gyre,
We believe that to live a life in balance we must start to rebuild our earth by using the solutions that nature has provided us. Take a breath and go outside for a moment. It is time to get away from all the noise about biodegradable, compostable and just listen. It’s nature at work. And it makes perfect sense.