An article explaining how meal kit services are attempting to make their packaging more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Meal kits have set off a movement that has revolutionized the way we purchase food. By reducing our food wastage through finely proportioned weekly food deliveries, meal kits have set themselves apart as environmentally friendly food suppliers.
However, delivering food incurs a notable amount of waste, much of which has brought the sustainability of meal kits into question. To combat this, many meal kit services have tackled their packaging waste in innovative ways.
Most meal kits are delivered through a special courier or the regular mailing system. As each kit often includes several meals meant to last the recipient the next week, they have to ensure the food is packed well enough to last.
This is simple for foods like fruits or vegetables, which just need padding to ensure they don’t get destroyed or bruised during shipping. This padding is often plastic, but other materials may be used just as well. However, when it comes to other foods it’s a bit more complicated.
Most meal kits deliver full-cooked meals, which are often frozen and require special packaging. This means the food is often surrounded with cooling materials like frozen gel packets or dry ice, which is then packed into a shipping box that will not be destroyed by condensation.
To get around this issue, many have opted for plastic boxes and containers, which don’t disintegrate with condensation the same way a regular cardboard box might.
Another consideration for many meal kit services is how they ship liquids. This would be applicable to drinks, smoothies, soups, and other liquid beverages or meals. The solution to this is often single use, plastic bottles.
If a beverage or meal is spilt, it could potentially ruin the whole box, making securing these liquids essential. Of course, in addition to these concerns, meal kit services also have to satisfy the food safety regulations set by their courier service and the law in their area. The safety of their customers must come first, so meal kit services often fall back on the most traditional and widely-accepted packages, even if they aren’t environmentally friendly.
Meal kits have set off a movement that has revolutionized the way we purchase food.
The primary problem with the packaging of meal kits is that they are often single use, plastic, and non-recyclable. These three problems are what meal kit services are consulting when they make their packaging waste more sustainable. In simpler meal kits which contain mostly fruits, vegetables, and foods that don’t need to be refrigerated, a meal kit service may just substitute packing filler with biodegradable or recyclable materials such as paper.
In kits that are shipped with frozen food that need to be kept cool, some meal kit services have opted to simply use regular ice packets made from water instead of environmentally unfriendly dry ice or gel compounds. Ice packets can be reused or simply emptied, as they don’t negatively affect the environment.
On top of this innovation, the cardboard boxes carrying all of this are made thicker and sturdier, instead of using a plastic lining, so the condensation from its cold contents does not affect the integrity of the box itself.
As for liquid drinks and foods, many meal kit services have started shipping these special meals in reusable bottles. This way their customer receives a bottle they may reuse countless times in addition to their meal. However, some have gone in a different direction and utilized recyclable or compostable containers, which is also easier on the environment.
These containers are essential to ensure the food they provide are delivered freshly and safely to their consumers, so the quality of the container is important.
However, unlike liquids, these containers are present in every delivery, making reusable containers for the consumer inefficient. Instead, some meal service providers created a system to use reusable containers that are sent back to them, so they can reuse them in future deliveries. Of course, some meal service providers use recyclable or compostable containers as well.
Despite the challenges presented by food packaging waste, meal kit services have many options to surmount these issues. If meal kit services incorporate these techniques in their deliveries, they will undoubtedly be excellent sustainable solutions to the global food wastage problem.
Although packaging waste is a pressing issue, it is not unavoidable.
Dedicated meal service providers and innovators have created multiple viable solutions to each issue.
The core issue for some meal kit services is simply incorporating these solutions.
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