Why is packaging really necessary?
Packaging, especially plastic packaging, has been the subject of controversial discussions for years. Consumers in particular criticise packaging for being harmful to the environment and unnecessary – and they are often right. So why not get rid of it altogether? The answer is pretty clear: packaging is essential. It ensures transport protection, food safety and quality and it helps to prevent food waste.
Being a meal kit company, we send a large variety of ingredients in our boxes to customers across the world. We are dependant on packaging because:
It helps protect and preserve the sensory properties of our ingredients, such as taste and smell,
It separates and limits biological interactions between the ingredients in our boxes,
It extends the shelf life of ingredients such as meat or yoghurt.
Our packaging commitment
HelloFresh has made a commitment across all of its geographies to entirely avoid packaging where possible. If that’s not an option we will reduce packaging and optimise it for recycling. We have already introduced a number of innovations to help us reach these goals. Whether or not to get rid of a certain type of packaging is based on a number of factors, including product safety and quality, raw material and supply security and cost-effectiveness. If packaging is used, for example, only for the sake of making its content easier to handle, it’s obvious that we can do without it. If a certain type of packaging is absolutely necessary we have a clear goal in mind: Designing it, so that it can be recycled without any efforts. That’s why we’re increasingly using paper packaging options and mono-materials, both of which can be recycled quite often.
What do we consider good packaging?
"Our motto is that there are no good or bad packaging materials, only suitable and unsuitable ones. Packaging needs to be adapted to the product and to the supply chain. That’s why we closely collaborate with researchers and suppliers," says Iryna Zender, Manager in the International Packaging Team at HelloFresh.
Plastic is often considered particularly controversial due to its lack of degradability and its constituent substances. Paper on the other hand is increasingly becoming the packaging material of choice. It’s made from renewable resources, can be widely recycled and is fully biodegradable. Unfortunately, paper cannot always replace plastic or a plastic composite, as it lacks necessary properties such as oxygen and moisture barriers. Therefore, in order to protect the quality of our ingredients during transport, plastic packaging solutions are (still) in use. Given that HelloFresh is closely connected with the packaging industry, it allows us to regularly trial plastic alternatives and quickly implement them after successful tests.
The packaging of the future
In the future, HelloFresh will move towards a circular use of packaging. We will work on implementing certified recyclable materials for all essential packaging in each of our markets. In addition to developing new packaging formats, we’re also working on determining the ideal packaging size for each ingredient and meal. This prevents our customers from receiving two or more packages of the same ingredient in one box.