Meal Kits; Waste and Recycling

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Recycling is something that is increasingly becoming a big issue in our modern world and it is something that we need to be aware of.  By using meal kit companies, you are undoubtedly using a service that means less waste in terms of the food products that you consume. Which is great news.  

When you receive your meal kits and prepared meals, you know that you are receiving perfectly portioned meals which mean no excess food and no food waste. However, meal kits also mean additional packaging and that can be an issue if recycling is not addressed properly. 

When you receive your delivery the first thing you will notice is the box. Once you open it, the contents can include ice or gel packs, ingredients separately wrapped, often in plastic and small plastic bottles with dressings. There is no getting away from it when you order a meal kit delivery, you are also receiving something that comes with a substantial amount of packaging and potential waste.

Packaging associated with Meal Kits:

Generally, your meal kit delivery will arrive in a cardboard box that often comes with some sort of insulating liner.  To ensure that your food is kept at the right temperature, gel or ice packs are packed with the food. Then when it comes to the ingredients themselves, some companies will wrap these individually in plastic and there are some companies that are now using paper.  Unfortunately, this can amount to a lot of waste products, which is something to be aware of. Using meal kit services is such a positive decision which can help with providing perfectly portioned meals and alleviates grocery shopping and meal planning. To keep this decision a positive one, it is also good to be aware of how your packaging can be recycled.

Freshly Box
Freshly- Inside look
Green Chef Box
Green Chef Box

So, how to recycle your meal kit packaging:

  • The box: Your delivery box should be fully recyclable. All that you will need to do is break down the box so that it can be easily transported to a recycling center or placed in your recycling bin if you have one.
  • Insulating materials: There is a range of materials used to provide insulation for the delivery box.   How recyclable these insulating materials are, will depend on what is used. If you are unsure at all, please ask the company.  Cardboard can be recycled. If it is a soft, cotton type of insulation this should also be recyclable. Some companies such as Green Chef guarantee that all their insulating material is fully recyclable, so if unsure we recommend checking.
  • Ice and gel packs: There are generally three different types of ice or gel packs used in delivery.  Dry ice does not need to be recycled as it will evaporate. Gel ice packs can be cut open and poured in trash, and the plastic should be recyclable.  There are some ice packs that are not made of recyclable materials and they are best to be reused. Keep them in your freezer and use them on picnics or to keep your groceries cool.
  • Plastic Packaging: All plastic materials should have a number with three arrows around that number to create a triangle. This gives you an indication of the type of plastic it is and how it can be recycled.

The number range goes from one to seven, with one being the easiest plastic to recycle and seven being the most difficult.

Fortunately, most meal kit companies are endeavoring to use plastics that are numbered one and two. These plastics are the most used internationally and are quite easy to recycle and are generally accepted at recycling stations or can be placed in your recycling bin if your zip code has access to home recycling bins.

Using a meal kit service is something that makes your life so much easier.  They have been designed with convenience in mind. You will have more time, you will be eating delicious meals that are also nutritious and you will be largely eliminating food waste.  Due to the style of packaging used, it is also important to consider how seriously your meal kit company takes recycling and what impact using them will have on the environment. This is an important consideration when making the decision as to which meal kit company suits you best. 

Regardless of what meal kit company you decide on, it is good to be aware of how the separate components can be recycled to ensure that you are following processes that also look after our environment. It is also positive to note, that an increasing number of meal kit companies are deciding to make recycling and using eco-friendly products an important part of their service.  As a consumer, we just need to check the recyclability of all packaging elements to ensure that we are recycling where we can.

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