Caffeine chewing gum: the sustainable winner

Caffeine chewing gum: the sustainable winner

They all promise a boost of energy, but which is the most sustainable choice? Coffee, energy drinks or caffeine gum? It seems difficult to compare the impact of these different products but this can be done. Through a so-called "Life Cycle Assessment": a method to map the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle. From the extraction of raw materials to waste disposal. The result: caffeine chewing gum leads the ranking in terms of environmental impact and appears to be the most sustainable choice for consumers for the time being.

More and more companies are thinking about their impact on people and the environment and how to make it more sustainable. The consulting firm Stripe Blue helps companies think strategically about sustainability. Through their data-driven approach, a clear picture of the C02 footprint is mapped. That analysis is then the basis for an action plan aimed at further sustainability. For First Energy Gum, market leader in caffeine chewing gum in the Netherlands, Stripe Blue investigated how much energy, materials and ingredients are needed to produce the gums, through a Life Cycle Assessment.

Research: Caffeine chewing gum compared to coffee and Energy Drinks
Jan Maarten Laurijssen, managing partner at Stripe Blue on the research results; "In analyzing the carbon footprint, we also examined how the production of the gums compares to the production of other energy boosters with an equal amount of caffeine of 80 milligrams.

Coffee has a fairly long logistics route. The cultivation, use of fertilizers and pesticides, harvesting, washing, drying, roasting, grinding and finally packaging coffee into cups all contribute to the final CO2 emissions. Moreover, a cup does not yet make coffee; you also need a coffee maker and hot water for that. Okay, that's negligible per cup, but it's part of the overall picture.

For a can of energy drink, the big difference is mostly in volume and transportation. Go figure, the energy boost from one pallet of First Energy Gum is equivalent to 10.5 pallets of energy drink cans. This makes the CO2 impact from transportation alone much greater. In addition, the production of the cans themselves is very energy intensive, especially if it is made from virgin aluminum. The mines that produce bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is made, are very polluting."

Caffeine chewing gum and impact: from ugly duckling to list leader
That FIRST Energy's caffeine chewing gum now tops the green list is surprising, because until recently the brand was barely concerned with sustainability. The results of the LCA are the result of a turnaround among entrepreneurs that began two years ago. Olympic champion Mark Tuitert, founder of FIRST Energy, says: "With our team we were invited by Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. During a tour we were told about the work they do and the impact they make. Hugely inspiring, but at the same time we also sat with the redness of our cheeks. "We realized that we were not at all engaged in sustainable business."

Motivated to do things differently, the team at FIRST Energy launched a project to become more sustainable on all fronts. For example, production was moved from the US to Europe. A huge savings on transportation. At the same time, the packaging was changed; where there used to be five different layers, there are now only two. All the phases the product went through were examined, from beginning to end. For each phase, the CO2 footprint was calculated. This gave the producer a good picture of what the impact is and where the priorities and opportunities lie for further sustainability. Ingredients, logistics, packaging, production, energy consumption, waste flows; it was all mapped out, including the associated calculations and CO2 footprint.

Says Michael Hekking, Founder & First Officer at FIRST Energy, "When it comes to the amount of caffeine, what stands out is that one cup of coffee and one can of energy drink contains the same amount of caffeine as two gums of First Energy Gum, namely 80 mg. The advantage of the gums is that the caffeine is absorbed faster through your mouth, giving you that energy boost faster. Soon we will launch a gum with not 40mg but 80 mg of caffeine. In terms of volume and energy, the boost is even more efficient. So cool that our gum is not only a practical and quick alternative for your Energy shot, but also one with a lower CO2 footprint. That's just extra motivation for us. Of course, the most sustainable thing is no gum, coffee or energy drink at all but whether that necessarily makes us happier? It all contains the same energy boost. Tastes differ and everyone has their own favorite way. In any case, know that if you choose sustainable, FIRST Energy's gums are at an advantage there."

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