The time is now for Terravive, a Richmond-based startup that manufactures compostable, ocean-degradable consumer products. Though just six years old, the company is hitting an exponential growth cycle fueled by both consumer demand for recyclable products and the government’s new focus on a sustainable, cleaner America.
The magic of Terravive is that their products work just like plastic, but they cleanly break down in any environment. They make more than 70 different items, including take-out containers, coffee cups, and utensils. To meet the rising demand, the company is now expanding its warehouses from Virginia to 14 different markets nationwide, including Dallas, Los Angeles, and Greensboro, North Carolina. Their clients include numerous restaurants, government agencies, corporate headquarters, and big-box retailers like Target.
Terravive’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Julianna Keeling believes 2021 will be their biggest year yet.
“Particularly, at this point in time, with the new administration coming in, the greater emphasis on sustainability, green jobs, social issues, people are a lot more in-tune with the types of things that Terravive talks about,” she said.
Keeling founded the company in 2015 to serve as a United States-based manufacturing solution to harmful plastics. Terravive – which combines the Latin words for “Earth” and “life” and translates as “the earth sustains itself” – uses compostable and degradable materials that perform like harder plastics but break down like plants. In fact, they break down without any harsh chemicals in rivers, seawater, lakes, landfills, or even backyard compost piles. The company leads with a clear mission statement: it’s our duty to preserve and protect the environment, and we work tirelessly to do just that.
The onset of the pandemic provided an opportunity for Terravive to focus on marketing its sustainable single-use containers to restaurants, most of which had pivoted to take-out and delivery. That was just a part of the rapid expansion in demand.
Terravive’s coast-to-coast growth is in line with the federal government’s recently-passed Corona Relief Package, which moves the country closer to net-zero emissions through a sweeping stimulus designed to reward the use of clean energy and sustainable products. Keeling and her team said they are encouraged by the federal government’s focus on transitioning to clean energy and sustainability. That, coupled with the fact that people are showing a greater interest in sustainable materials, is the main driver of the company’s explosive growth. In many communities, local and state governments are passing plastic bans. Globally, China recently announced it will no longer import American trash to recycle, which raises a challenge for us in the United States to take a hard look at the waste we produce. Thankfully, recent leadership at the national level on this issue shows America is up for the task. “Our products, and our company, as a whole, sits in a perfect nexus of what this [country’s] administration has said it’s going to support,” Keeling explained.
The demand for those remarkably-sustainable Terravive products will certainly accelerate the country’s transition to a circular economy. The company is proving that small changes – a fully sustainable coffee cup or a set of recyclable utensils with your delivery food – add up to a huge impact on the environment.