03 Nov #34 Troy Swope on Canceling Plastic: Saving the Planet One Food Package at a Time
Salad. Meat. Sliced watermelon. Frozen veggies. What do all these supermarket products have in common? They’re all wrapped in some sort of plastic packaging. Not only is this plastic destroying our planet, but the toxic chemicals it’s made from is soaking into our food. It’s time to make some big changes, people.
WELCOME TO THE DARIN OLIEN SHOW.
Troy Swope has a problem with plastic.
There are 9.2 billion metric tons of plastic on our planet. If that sounds massive to you, it’s because every piece of plastic ever made still exists today. It doesn’t go anywhere, guys. It doesn’t break down.
Troy Swope’s company Footprint was created after Troy realized that not only were these plastics destroying our planet, but they were harming his family as well. Before Footprint, Troy ran a materials company. After lab testing revealed that plastic containers were contaminating a product it was storing, Troy had a lightbulb moment. So, when his wife brought home a bunch of fresh sliced fruit packaged in plastic from the supermarket one day, his curiosity got the better of him. Sure enough, testing proved this fresh sliced, healthy fruit was covered in toxic chemicals from their storage containers.
Now, Troy and his business partner/ best friend Yoke Chung are supplying some of the big boys of food brands with sustainable, safe packaging. It started with a microwavable bowl used for frozen meals and expanded to a plethora of sustainable packaging. Footprint manufactures frozen food trays, six-pack rings, yogurt containers, coffee cups, and just about any sort of food container you can imagine, with more to come. Troy and Yoke envision a future where supermarkets and grocery stores are completely plastic-free. And I believe they are the ones to make it happen.
In this episode, Troy breaks down the absolute nastiness of traditional food packaging. He explains the endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have free access to our bodies thanks to plastic food containers. This is something I’ve been bitching about for years and years now, so I can’t even tell you how exciting it is to partner with this guy and his amazing company to make real change. Have a listen, and make a conscious effort to avoid plastic food packaging. This is important, guys.
Also, in this episode:
- Why Troy reached out to me
- Troy’s background with plastics
- Why the word “recyclable” makes Troy’s blood boil
- How Conagra has been years ahead of the game
- Troy’s lightbulb moment
- Why he thinks Millenials are smarter than him
- All the amazing “Big Boy” brands Footprint is working with
- The “turning off the tap” analogy to explain plastic waste
- How Moms are the leaders for big changes
- The big Taylor Farms news
- Winning the Cup Challenge
Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 15 years exploring the planet looking for healthy foods, superfoods, environmental solutions, and I’ve had my mind blown along the way by the people, the far off places I have been, and the life-altering events that have changed my life forever. My goal is to help you dive deep into some of the issues of our modern-day life, society’s fatal conveniences. The things that we do that we’re indoctrinated into thinking we have to, even though those things are negatively affecting us, and in some cases, slowly destroying us and even killing us. Every week, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. My hope is through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. Together, we’ll explore how you can make small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you, the people around you and the planet, so let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.
Darin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show. Thanks for tuning in. I am your guide down this rabbit hole of innovation, possibilities, invention, disruption of the status quo to invent and reinvent and reinvigorate ourselves into a new paradigm, a new future. Listen, this is election time. I’m not going to make political statements because I do believe that there’s a world outside of politics where we can largely create and change a lot of things and systems and ways we go about our lives and about the lives of the future generations that make sense, that are acknowledging both sides of the aisle, at the same time creating a world that’s different. So hopefully all of you that have voted and you’re voting and we will see who the next president is, but if any of you have followed me, I believe in the power of people. I believe in the power of humanity, of the spirit, of the collaboration, of the part centered, kicking ass movement of what is possible for ourselves in our lives as we get clear and that we do no harm. As we move through this life, I am calling out all of you to check out my newsletter, darinolien.com. We have a group of Gen-Z researchers creating information, creating possibilities, moving forward, creating action steps towards a better, healthier planet, and a better healthier you. And my next guest, Troy Swope is a perfect example of someone leading and living his life in a way that’s bettering everything. In terms of single-use plastic, in terms of better packaging, in terms of making money while doing great things. All of you need to listen to this episode because what you’re going to walk away from is, oh my god, there’s hope. Someone is actually on a big scale changing single-use plastic, creating alternatives to this horrible situation we all find ourselves in as business owners, as consumers. Troy Swope and his partner, Yoke Chung, started this company, Footprint, that they literally believe in innovating for a healthier planet, working with some of the biggest companies on the planet right now. Cargill, McDonald’s, Pepsi, focusing on disrupting our dependence on single-use plastics. So their vision has caused this whole world to start changing in a big way. So they’re literally one of the biggest companies working in this way so that you can scale. So finally, these big companies without losing all this margin, they can step on-board saying, yes, let’s do this. Let’s transition. Let’s get billions and billions, billions of single-use plastics off the market with these other polymers with all these plant-based materials. So it is with my great honor and great pleasure and full disclosure, I have just signed on as one of their advisors to Footprint and I am so excited to help them blow this up, and to let people know and to let other companies know and other people and you guys need to know that there are big movements happening all around this space of change. It’s happening. It’s here. Troy and his company are leading the march in this thing. So I’m honored to be with them as one of their advisors. So listen in, tune in. This is exciting because this is combating one of the greatest problems that we have on the planet with my great guest, the CEO of Footprint, my good friend, Troy Swope.
Darin: Dude, welcome to the podcast, brother.
Troy: Thank you.
Darin: Very interesting. So just to give everyone a little backstory, Troy reached out from the show, and potentially we’re looking at probably by the time this airs, we’ll be doing something together to help anywhere I can help with the mission. And I’m so excited about the mission that you guys are on and the way that you’re going about it because if we’re really going to have a dent in this anti-plastic world, we actually have to build infrastructure and business to support big business in making changes that are not going to affect their bottom line so drastically and actually can be at a scale that can meet their demands. You know, we have well over now, 9.2 billion metric tons of plastic on the planet. So essentially, everyone, you have to understand that every bit of plastic that’s ever been created is still here. And then we’re just piling on more and more and more and more. And the whole idea is, let’s clean up. W definitely need to clean up the plastic. And there’s a lot of theories around how we can potentially do it but we have to turn the faucet off and we have to turn it off in a big way because all of our industry has moved to plastic. Just back up a little bit and tell– you had to have been inspired. I want to know your story because to go into this in such a big way to go after the big boys to not use plastic but to be able to meet a demand and a price point at that level, man, I want to know what that light bulb was for you and how you got here.
Troy: Well, interestingly enough, it had nothing to do with plastic pollution. So it’s kind of the data and information that we’re starting to get now around the health. But so to back things up quite a bit. I ran a materials organization at Intel Corporation, so building semiconductors and building materials for just about moving products or our global operation. And one of the projects we had my team was working on, the scientists were working on, we had contamination we’re seeing on products that were coming from Japan or raw materials are being shipped from Japan, and we’re seeing contamination. They came to us and said– they came to my team and said, “Troy, we’re having to polish this product or clean this product every time. It’s just 24 hours of shipping. Everything’s air shipped for Intel. And then 24 hours later, we’re having to clean it. So we want to reduce costs, we want to stop cleaning it but your system is not working.” And this isn’t the best way to describe this. The system is the most expensive single-use plastic item in the world. It’s called a FOSB or wafer carrier. And it basically looks like a Yeti cooler that is single-use, you throw it away after each use. So we tried to reuse it and stuff, but we just couldn’t get a system going.
Darin: What is it carrying?
Troy: It carries a wafer. It’s a raw silicon wafers, so raw material. It looks like a millimeter– so basically, a paper-thin sheet of glass, but looks like a mirror. And so this is before the semiconductor process with stereolithography making it into a microprocessor. So it’s dirty, it’s contaminated, it goes into a cleanroom. So we start investigating why are we having to clean this? Why is it dirty? And then ultimately, what we found out is that the plastic itself was crapping all over the wafer. So it wasn’t contamination. It was sealed. It was airtight. Everything was working. So we started all these programs working with just about every top plastic company in the world. We went to MIT and everything and saying, we want to get this plastic to stop outgassing. And ultimately, you could kind of control it but then we made this thing so expensive that we are better off polishing it. While we’re working on this project, I have four kids, I’m sitting at home and my wife’s bringing home groceries from the store specifically Costco and everything is in plastic like it’s jewelry. It’s like jewelry and these cut pineapple spheres. So this engineering curiosity, I started grabbing this food bringing it into a semiconductor environment into our labs and saying, “Tell me what’s on this food?” And I did it for a year. And so the same characteristics that was on our contaminating our wafer was all over the food, in most cases in far greater levels. So I’m going, this can’t be good and it was in cut fruit. So Darren, it was blowing me away because you don’t traditionally wash cut fruit. It’s sitting in its pineapple spears. They are sitting in that juice. You don’t want to watch that juice out, and it was tremendously contaminated.
Darin: It’s bathing in this pollutant petrol created bath of leaching from this plastic, just leaching right into the food. So top five contaminants are what?
Troy: The things you see, the Bisphenol A that we’re going after. So it looked like alphabet soup, but it’s just a bunch of phenols and phthalates. And interestingly enough, if you Google now, like obesogens. So what’s causing our children and everybody to be so big and type two diabetes and those things are things called obesogens. They are part of endocrine disrupters. There are much more diseases associated to these. But the number one thing it says to do is to avoid food stored in plastic containers, like good luck. So Google it today, and they’ll tell you, number one thing to do is avoid food stored in plastic containers. And go to a grocery store and find that. This is 2004. So 2004, I’m looking at this data, and I’m going is this bad? It’s got to be bad. I mean, it can’t be good. So I went to universities, Arizona State, University of Arizona and started talking to professors. Again, this is all out of curiosity. And I started just asking, is this bad? And they came back and said, absolutely, it’s bad. But just how bad? I mean, there’s great information now. Dr. [00:12:27] and all those guys, in 2014, there was a group that went out and studied endocrine disruptors, but this is 2004. So kind of thinking about like skating to where the puck is going to be, from sports metaphor there. I started grabbing real smart scientists and engineers from Intel and just say, “Look at this data,” in my best friend and my co-founder, co-apprentice, probably the smartest person I know. And I went to him, and I said, “We could build better than plastic, right?” And for him to get interested in anything, it had to be really hard. It had to be really difficult to do and it had to have a massive impact. And that’s generally anybody at Intel. You’re paid well, and you’re doing well, and Intel was really winning at the time. So to leave, it had to be real compelling, and you had to have a real mission impact like you’re gonna have an impact on society. Intel, the microprocessors had a huge impact on society,. So we felt we could develop a better technology than plastic and that included not only competing with plastic from a performance standpoint, which is it can’t increase food spoilage and certainly can contaminate the human health, but it had to compete with plastic on price. So from day one, we weren’t relying on legislation or we weren’t dependent on– we were going to build a better technology than plastic. So it’s always been our mantra that we don’t need external help. We were going to build a better technology. The good news is that frankly, Millennials are smarter than me and they’re going, I don’t want to microwave plastic. I know it’s bad and I will make better decisions and my buying decision than my generation has. Maybe because we weren’t informed. So the good news is, because of that, there’s not one CPG company that I want to work with that we’re not working with. And I may not be able to list them all today, but we’re working with them all. And they want to change. This technology hasn’t necessarily been there for them to be able to change.
Darin: Well, there’s so much even in that story because I think the world– we have this instinct but we’ve gotten so used to the use of plastic. So we have this instinct that hey, this is probably not a good idea. All my fast food is coming in these other types of films and Teflon films so it doesn’t stick and then we’re plasticizing that and people just listen for a second right now and that is saying that plastics origin is petroleum. I did extensive research into it for nine months on when you break down plastic, you get gas back, you get petroleum, you get kerosene, you get a dirty paraffin. That’s what happens when you take your beautiful Pepsi bottle, not so beautiful, and throw it in these things, and it starts bringing you down. Now what Troy’s talking about is all of these other Bisphenol A and all these other endocrine disruptors that are already proving that the hormone disruption is happening. It’s increasing the menstruation occurrence of girls, it’s increasing that faster girls having menstruation at 8, 9, 10 years old that’s never been seen before. And men, because of it’s estrogen effect on the body that’s mimicking effect from estrogen perspective, it’s dropping our motility. So our sperm cells are basically dying and dead. So that’s what we’re dealing with. So I love this story because you basically saw your wife bringing home food that was gonna feed you and your precious kids and you were like, huh, let’s check this out because it’s contaminating your own equipment that you need. So this experiment that’s not going in our best interest, you just said, listen, we got to do something different and have zero use of plastic but also, what I really love what you said is, literally make something better than plastic. So now Troy, you’ve got this super science team. Talk to me now about without getting into the proprietary side of things, how did you start forging the way out and providing this as a new answer?
Troy: Well, I think first and foremost, you have to fail a lot. And so the way we got started in engineering and in science, you do fail but you got to fail forward. The great thing about being from Intel, their core team is Intel taught us how to develop and fail forward. So how to design experiments so that you can learn from each experiment. Obviously, they had the end of life always in mind, you know, what’s the user experience as far as the health impacts on them when it’s microwave, it’s putting in oven, is it outgassing, is it leaking? What materials do we have to add? So ultimately, we chose fiber cellulose materials. It’s got to be our lead vehicle today to take on this challenge. And we liked it because it was everywhere. I mean, ultimately, I sit home, especially during this environment. And I look at every week and how many boxes I got to break down because of having foodservice delivery constantly, even my barukas nuts are coming in. So I gotta break all these materials down. Well, Footprint uses a lot of those materials. About 50% of our raw material sources is a box. We love that as a story. It takes a little bit more work to use it for food, we have to do to clean it, we put it through refiners and pull glues and those kinds of things out but it’s a great, very inexpensive source of material and the [00:19:02] But we heard Conagra, their head of innovation, a guy named David France. We saw him at a conference and we saw him online. He was really, really innovative creative guy that was a risk-taker and we knew that he would have an interest in this. And so we approached him and said, “Hey, we’re gonna develop this technology for you. And would Conagra be interested, we knew is a massive [00:19:29] And it’s frozen food. So Darin, it’s probably the most difficult part to challenge in the supermarket because it’s got a 12 and 18-month shelf life. And so then at the end of that 12-18 months, so basically we have to stop water and oil transferring for 12 to 18 months. Nothing’s happening as it sits in a freezer and then we want it to go into an oven and the microwave which you can’t do today with plastic, you can only go into microwave. And then they want it to compost in 90 days back down to Earth, commercially compost at 90 days. So just those constructs, that challenge was actually very exciting to us because we knew that if we conquered it, they were ready to give us business. They want to change. And they’ve been really the leaders, they five years ahead of most big CPGs relative to their vision on sustainability is that if the technology’s there, Conagra is going to change. And so we saw them as a partner that was gonna allow us to fail and fail with us. And since then, we’ve proven it out and now we’ve just taken what we’ve learned and are applying it to just about everybody in the supermarket.
Darin: Yeah, that’s amazing. I mean, you think about the Amazon world of boxes literally going everywhere. I can’t imagine the volume that is increased during this weird time and COVID just because people don’t want to leave. And so you’re definitely not shy of the use of that as your model. So the boxes are your main and then you’ve got your super proprietary cleaning and molding and repolymerization and all of that stuff to mold whatever you need your customer. And is it been driven kind of mainly by, well, obviously, customer? What are their needs? And can we come in at a price point that fits their needs? And is it mostly then single-use plastic that you’re kind of coming in. Go down the list of some of your main products that you’re focused on right now.
Troy: Yeah, our Footprint exists– number one, we exist similar to the reason we wanted to contact you and build or forge a relationship is, we exist to create a healthier planet, which is right up your alley. And we feel that phase one for us is to develop the technologies that help our customers get out of plastic. And then phase two for us is to add value. Make the packaging through material science and innovation to add value into the packaging. So what I mean by that is adding the antimicrobials. We want to extend the shelf life of spinach and produce and those kinds of things and proteins. We want to extend the life. So if you want to talk about a huge CO2 impact, we already have a huge CO2 impact by replacing plastic, you know, 30 to 40% on a gram to gram basis consistently to replace it. But if we can extend the shelf life to two days, three days, four days through advanced technologies, adding value, it’s even better. And then ultimately, we have visions, what you talked about earlier is clean up. You and I have talked about some companies that are doing cleanup, but how do we pull stuff out of landfills? It’s traditionally not recyclable, polycarbonate, ABS, and those things and create products with them so that it’s not sitting in a landfill. So can we put them in decking, citing, pallets, things that aren’t going to impact human health, but also get it out of a landfill so it’s not just contaminating the earth that way? So that’s kind of our vision relative there. Today, as you mentioned, we’re selling hundreds of millions of units and it’s with big CPG companies. So where you could find is beyond meats in the sausage category, we’re working on helping them in the burger category. It’s big volume for us so it’s a lot to put in place. And so you find us there, we have shelf-stable items, macaroni and cheese items, frozen food items with Conagra, produce, working on a big deal with [00:23:43] I think I don’t know if I can mention them yet. We’re close to signing a contract and we’ll start conversion with one of the larger farms in America. And so our vision is to completely transform the supermarket. So eventually, you’ll see us in shampoo bottles and other items as well. But first and foremost, it’s kind of in the center of the grocery store relative to the frozen food section. Then we’re getting into dairy and margarines and moving out to proteins, meat, bakery and those kinds of things.
Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, Barukas nuts. When I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. The taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the health theists nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber and they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to barukas.com/darin. That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N. I know you will enjoy.
Darin: And also I love the fact that– So are you saying that this maybe call it a second wave or other business models, continued business model is to develop full-on and develop other products based on cleaning and refining some of the use of plastic? So is that kind of the second wave or are you guys actually starting to move into that space?
Troy: We developed technologies, we built some glasses for 3D movies that were made out of traditionally unrecycled materials back when everybody was watching 3D movies. I don’t think that kind of came and went. But we developed some technologies around that. We developed some palettes and stuff, exactly what you’re talking about, I think our vision in that space is that we know that there are some guys in, for lack of a better term, sitting in their garage, developing really cool stuff that we know that if we could add value into the engineering phase of it and help them scale and get it up, we want to go help these guys or girls that are developing these technologies. We want what’s better for the planet as part of this ethos. If we feel our engineering discipline can help them scale and get it to market, we want to go find them and help them. So that’s kind of the second or third phase. And then relative to the circular economy, I think there’s a lot of data that shows that if you have the feedstock composting, it is far better economically for municipalities than recycling is, obviously the misnomer. We’ll talk about how– sorry for the language, but a bullshit scenario recycling is right now. So the word recyclable I guess is probably the one that gets me the most. So we can get the feedstock composting, we think that there’s a real opportunity for the circular economy. We start looking at companies like Sweet Greens, I love them, is you could build the feedstock. They start the composting operation there right there in their facility. Somebody picks it up, gets it out, finishes the composting, gets it back onto their growers, and as a nutrient to their growers that ultimately comes back in as a tomato or cucumber, everything back into their stores. We see that vision and that part of the circular economy really developing. We just need to make sure we get the composting feedstock. Building the loop is not as difficult as the material. We got to get the material there for them. So that’s additional phases to the vision.
Darin: So the reality is that we have this beautiful little separation in our home of recycling and non-recycling, and we feel good, we put the recycling. And potentially most people, it’s this blue bin, and we put it out and the waste management comes and grabs the blue bin in a special dumper and then grabs the other one, and then they take it away. And we’re like, hey, cool, I’m doing my part, man, I separated all this stuff, and they’re taken away and they’re going to recycle. Well, recycling just largely doesn’t exist. We’re not doing anything meaningful with any of that plastic. So just because you separate it just makes you feel good and it’s not improving the situation and it’s not being recycled. And then largely, these waste management, they don’t even know what to do with this kind of multi-layered plastic and new mechanisms, new chemistry of how we’re creating this stuff. They don’t even know what to do with it. They’re so far beyond or so far away from understanding even how to break that down that it’s just crazy. So Troy and I obviously aligned on that, and which is why we absolutely have to do something with the existing plastic on the planet, but we have to turn off the flood of plastic going in the world. You know, trying to recycle is trying to put out a raging fire with the squirt gun, it’s just very difficult. So we have to turn off the faucet and then we have to do meaningful projects to actually recycle on a big scale. And then create opportunities like you guys have at Footprint and actually hit the big boys with alternatives that make sense for the business model. So anyway, that’s my rant. But I want to hear your rant and angles around this thing because this is just, number one, there’s a solution. And you have now put a stamp in the ground and as a leader in this space to actually be and create a change.
Troy: Yeah, I so my rant is I want to make sure it’s clear that I definitely support recycling but your point, it’s a bit like we’re mopping the floor in our kitchen because our tap is overflowing but we’re not turning off the tap. No matter how much we mop, we got to slow down that tap or turn it off. And I stole that analogy from a good friend, the director of A Plastic Ocean, Craig Leeson, I think, Darin, you’re gonna meet but it’s a great analogy. But my issue with recycling isn’t recycling. It’s the word recyclable. And what you’re seeing a lot is from big corporations saying they’re cop-out. So let’s pick on Coke because I can care less if coke is my customer, Pepsi, North America is . So let’s pick on Coke. You know, Coke is saying, hey, I’m gonna make everything that I use recyclable but I’m not going to commit to use that much that I make recyclable as recycled materials every year. So basically, it’s going to be recyclable. And if you downstream don’t use it, it’s your problem, not Cokes problem. But the reality with plastics, now, glass and aluminum and cellulose materials get recycled at really high rates, like 60, and aluminum and glass even higher, fiber-based materials are 74% globally. So they get cycled at much higher rates. But plastic doesn’t because the value of it after the cost of recycling and cleaning all that doesn’t match the value of something they can get virgin. It’s going to perform better and it’s low cost, but I just had to pay all this money to pick it up, clean it, make it work again. It just doesn’t have enough value for it. I mean, there’s some value there, but not for the amount that we’re creating with single-use. And that’s why the word recyclable drives me nuts. With these big corporations, we cannot let them get off the hook with its recyclable. No, you’ve got to commit to make sure it’s recycled, or that it matches an end of life scenario that humans we can live with, which is it’s compostable, it’s biodegradable, it’s marine-degradable. I don’t want it in my ocean forever. You got to pay for that. So I think there’s a senator from New Mexico, Tom Udall, that he has a big problem. We got to support him that he’s trying to drive to where you’re responsible for it. And I’m not a big proponent of legislation. I’m a competitor. I’m an athlete that wants to go, hey, I’ll develop a technology that’s better. I don’t care what you have, but we need to make sure that– and I feel so bad for people today because there’s so much bad news. I do this to my kids all the time that are looking at me when I tell them, get your cell phone off your lap. Never put that up your head. I heard you saying that the other day on your show and I was like, oh, that’s funny. And so every day I’m giving them something new ‘don’t do.’ But I think we just need to make sure that mothers out there know. I mean, did our mothers– when they go to a playground, 12% of the playground had ADHD or autism or some sort of– No, we’re all pretty much the same back in 1977 when we were kids. But today, mothers have to deal with childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes, autism, ADHD, all this stuff because there’s chemicals in our food. We store them in shit that contaminates. So we got to educate them and let them know that hey, if you have a choice, let’s help them with choices in the supermarket and that will drive corporation’s behavior faster than anything. Don’t buy the shit that’s gonna kill you.
Darin: Yeah, it’s huge and the further you go down that economic model, the cheaper the plastic is, the styrofoam wrapped in this and that, and then it’s microwaved, and it’s sells for $1, and so people go for this volume sense of food, and I get it. You want to provide for your family and everything, but at a severe cost. So if we really took the idea that you wouldn’t knowingly give your kids chemicals that are going to harm them, but that is literally the world that we are in. And you go down the line, you go all of these food manufacturers using all of these chemicals, there’s no regulation. And so I do believe and what I love about what you guys are doing, and every company, I call out every company, it’s your responsibility for the future of your container. Are you contributing or harming? And you know, you know what that is. We need to be more responsible. And we also need to have people like this, listening and learning. So now we have this customer base that pushes back that says, hey, guys, you know, I love your product, but what are you doing for the environment? What are you doing to make this product better and not being leached in a chemical bath from this pretty marketing package shit you put around it. So I love that you are hitting the big boys and that you’re also proving that a company like this can exist, number one, it can profit. So I like profit centered social responsible, environmentally responsible businesses, I love it. Because then you can have this whole, you can have a product that is powerful, environmental, and supportive to the people like what you’re doing. And then people will get behind it and corporations can get behind it. And now you actually are contributing to the world, you’re still allowing people to get products out that is necessary in this modern world, but it’s not creating this harm, and potentially even actually creating some good because you’re gobbling up that which is waste, you’re transforming it and transmuting it into something even better. And I just want to say too, I don’t want to get myself in trouble. I still recycle myself. I separate you. I can’t consciously just dump plastic in with all my trash. So there’s a system in place. Now if we can take that system of collection and have that take another step into refining and changing and doing something else with the plastic instead of burying it, that would be a good thing.
Troy: Or just give in a more valuable feedstock than plastic. So there’s something that has a value, either it could compose, this could become a nutrients to the earth, it’s biodegradable. It has other avenues that. We call it any venue, when, right? We need materials, technologies that match the event. But relative back to the comment again, I want to make sure the– I’m going to mention these guys if I’m supposed to or not. So we had a call yesterday with Taylor Farms. It’s just one of the largest organic growers in the country, if not the largest relative to Leafy Greens and stuff. They’re based in Central California. And these guys are unbelievable. And they’re making huge investments in bets to do the right thing. I mentioned already Conagra was doing this five years ago at their own risk. And at the time, nobody knew if it was going to sell and they’ve had tons of success with it, and they they endured a lot of cost to make these change and take these risks. So the good news is, and in this environment, I think we need some good news is these companies and all of them, we work with all of them, they want to change. Now there’s different levels of risk taking within those companies and innovation skills and so forth, but they all want to change. They need the technologies that enable them to change. And it’s not going to be just Footprint. And through our relationship, Darin, we’re going to have to go find those guys that are creating those technologies and we’re going to have to help them scale, maybe it’s through connection, through capital, through our innovation skills, but we’re going to have to help everybody work together for the greater good. And to your point, we can do it and make a profit. I mean, if we can make semiconductors and the technologies that we do today, I’m not talking about Footprint, I’m talking about just Americans. The folks in Silicon Valley, what they’re innovating is incredible and the AI and space and so forth. We can focus some of that energy on technologies that we don’t need all these chemicals or we could have better chemicals, healthy chemicals get back to the earth. We just focus that innovation efforts on these problems, you can make a lot of money. And you can do a lot of good.
Darin: Amen to that man. I mean, hundred percent. The world is expanding and opening and it’s just really good to hear that from your mouth, from the mouth of these other corporations, the big boys, they are saying they want to change. And that’s fantastic. And a big organic farm like Taylor Farms, come on, it’s so exciting.
Darin: So for years, maybe most of my life, people have been asking me, “What kind of foods do you eat? What kind of exercises do you do? What kind of water should I drink?” All of these things and so much more we put into a 21-day program so that can take you through a theme every day of knowledge, action, and then eating these delicious meals, working out, getting support, anchoring in these new habits so you can do what? So that you can kick ass. So you have the energy, the vitality to live the kind of life that you really want. That’s what it’s all about. So all in this app, we have grocery lists, we have education about real hydration and what greater oxygenation and the balance of alkalinization. All of these things we are diving into as you’re heading down this hero’s journey of implementation into a new life to give you the kind of life that you actually want. So join my Tribe. All you have to do is go 121tribe.com. Sign up, and you get three free days. Join me on this hero’s journey. Join the Tribe.
Darin: And just so the people can know, and I’m curious too, what are some of the products that you’re actually using right now and plates and packaging and wrapping and what are some of the stuff that you’re the main products that you’re selling right now?
Troy: So our main focus where we’ve created the most differentiation is in supporting big CPGs. So I mentioned earlier, like frozen food. We’re working on six pack rings. So we launched with Coors. By last summer now, we’re we’re building up our ability to scale and launch that at a massive scale. We’re doing yogurt items, working with some big guys there. I can’t remember the names I’m working with, Daily Harvest and Food Service Delivery, we’re replaceing all those. We won the Cup Challenge. So last year, Darin, there’s a cup challenge, and I think what people don’t know is your Starbucks cup or your McDonald’s cup that you buy that’s paper, you think it’s paper, it’s got a plastic liner in it. And makes it not recyclable and also could be contaminate especially when you put hot coffees and liquids in there. So we want a challenge where we developed a solution that’s completely plastic free. We’re rolling that out in Q4. And then with massive scale, we’re going to sell 2 billion of those in 2022, hopefully more. Actually, I’m going to challenge my team. We could sell it at the existing price it is today without plastic, and it’s a much more rigid, solid. And it has a lot more texture options and print off. So it’s a much better product than what’s out there today. So I’m gonna challenge my team to get more than 2 billion out there by 2022. But that’s just to name a few. And we mentioned Taylor Farms [00:43:45] we had a big meeting with them. We’ve been developing with them a lot. And what I love about those guys is that they have to sell to the retailer and the retailer has to buy into this. And they’re taking the risk. I like to use the term, you skate where the puck is going to be versus where it’s at. And they’re skating to where it’s going and these businessmen that see that, they’re going to get the reward for it. And I love those guys and I mentioned Conagra all the time. We have a unique experience, we get to work with a lot of the leadership teams in these big CPGs. They’ve got an unbelievable leadership team as far as risk taking. Sean Connolly their CEO is a mentor of mine, and he gets it and his whole team gets it. They’re talented at multi levels. And if we could supply more, they would convert more. They would convert everything they had if they had a solution for it, which is very risk taking.
Darin: Wow. That’s certainly a great business model for you to realize that you’ve got such a relationship there and they’re willing to go for it. And I love that analogy of go where the pucks going to be rather than where it is. And so if you’re creating these alternatives, I mean, the ripple effect. We have no idea, zero, barely any about how really harmful all of this stuff is, barely any, because we don’t know the micro effects that all of this is having. We don’t even have an idea of the off gassing from a micro environment, all the way to the macro environment. My whole thing is let’s not even get into the political discussion of global warming. I don’t even give a shit about that political discussion. What I care about is common sense. If you can do no or less harm, then frickin do it. So that’s what I love. And I love that you’re providing this answer for these companies, these big boys. And now you’re a big boy and kind of coming together in that way, and it gets me fired up, man. It gets me way fired up.
Troy: I get fired up when I start cussing. So I did pretty good today. I was a little nervous as we got into this. You kind of got like this football coach appeal to you. So I thought I was gonna be all dropping f bombs when I’m excited. I did pretty good. You fired me up. I’m on the tribe so I’m fired up there. I have energy if we’re gonna change the planet. So I’m digging deep, man.
Darin: I love it. Yeah, so Troy just sign up on the 121tribe. And he realized he needs to just dial it in a little bit because we need you, man. We need you to be on purpose, on path and just expand beyond belief because we need to do it. We’re all warriors here and we need to be this. We need to create change and that’s what it’s all about. So I love the the the synergy here with you and your team and I can’t wait to just dig in more and help out in any way that I can. Troy, you man, you just made my made my frickin week, my month and my year knowing that you exist.
Troy: It’s the same, mate. And I think we need you especially on your platform there. And then the more I see and hear about you, I think that your platform is only going to rise and to just educate. I feel so bad for moms and fathers out there that are thinking I’m gonna get my kid water. They’re drinking water, and we just got to give them, hey, here’s alternatives don’t drink it out of this bottle. That bottle has been sitting in a truck or in a warehouse for months. And this is what you’re doing to your kid. I mean, I didn’t know that. I mean, and I just started collecting this stuff I was giving to my kids going, are you kidding me? And I feel so bad. I’m constantly taking stuff out of their hands and go, no, don’t need that. So we’re just excited that we met you and that we have an opportunity that you can help educate folks and then give them alternatives. I think that’s what we need in society is our okay, tell me that’s bad, what can I do that’s good? I still got a drink, I still got to eat, tell me what to do. And you start buying the products, the brands are changing, it’s gonna change, it is going to come really quick. They’re getting rewarded for the change. And we got to be somewhat pragmatic. So in that change is that it’s going to be better than what it was and then it’s going to be best, and then it’s going to be perfect. So right now, if we see that it’s better, let’s help them go, okay, great. I recognize this, I’m going to buy this product. And I’m going to tell everybody in social media, hey look, I bought this because of this. Change will happen really fast. I mean, really quick. When they could go back to their CEOs and go to their board and say, hey, I saw a 25% sales increase by putting it in a better package. I’m going to change everything at this cost. I’m going to spend this capital to convert, but long-term economics, we’re gonna be fine, but it’s gonna be initial conversion cost. They’ll have that money and that support from their board to change. So the fastest way to change is you help educate and then the consumers go from that educated point and buy from there. We’ll be in good shape.
Darin: Yeah, I think you just summarize that perfectly because people you have to understand you’re listening to this and the hundreds of thousands of people hearing this podcast right now that you literally are a wave of change. And if all of you then take your hard earned money, that is a vote, so every dollar, every $10 and 20 and 50 and 100 are your voting rights for corporations. When you’re taking your hard earned money and saying, yes, I’m taking now, I have an awareness, I’m going to pull the plastic out of my children’s hands and replace it with other alternatives supporting those companies that are doing the right thing and are doing better and best and perfect and moving in that direction, then that is how we change. It’s not this high up government official, it’s us people. It’s us mobilizing, it’s us being aware, it’s us educating ourselves, and then we lead. And I love what you said earlier, and that is moms, you are the gatekeepers, man. Moms, I love you all because you created us as men. And you create the patterns in the household. So it’s up to you to be aware and to make the move, and so that we can create a global change. And so Troy man, and all of the– I can’t wait to meet everybody at Footprint because I know it’s mission based. And you guys are doing it, and you’re pragmatic, and you’re making it available to the world. And I just again, I can’t thank you enough. And thanks for hanging out with me for a little bit.
Troy: Yeah, thank you buddy.
Darin: That was a fantastic episode. What was the one thing that you got out of today’s conversation? If today’s episode struck a chord with you, and you want to dive a little deeper on a variety of topics, check out my live deep dives on darinolien.com/deepdive. More episodes are available on darinolien.com as well. Keep diving my friends, keep diving.