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The Most Wasteful Meal Kit

With fresh ingredients, knowing exactly what’s gone into it, and the sense of achievement you get from cooking the perfect Pad Thai, meal kits are a great alternative to buying a takeout. With people becoming more environmentally conscious, we wanted to find out which meal kit is the best for the environment? Which companies use too much non-recyclable material? Who is using more packaging than there are ingredients in the box?

We ordered three meals each from four delivery companies. To ensure the results were accurate we made sure to choose three types of dish (meat, pasta, and rice), we also made sure all the recipes chosen had a similar number of ingredients. The chosen companies were; Hello Fresh, EveryPlate, Home Chef, and Blue Apron. We ordered all meals for four people.

 

Empty Packaging Space

We first looked at the amount of empty space at the top of the main box which was delivered, Blue Apron performed best in this category with only 2.5” of empty space at the top of the box. Hello Fresh and EveryPlate performed the worst with 5”. It’s important to keep empty space to a minimum to reduce excess waste, excess space can also lead to products moving around in transit and becoming damaged.

Percentage of Recycled Packaging

One of the best ways to protect the environment is to make sure you recycle as much as possible, none of the companies we ordered from had more than 50% of materials labeled as recyclable. The best performing was Blue Apron with 50%. By far the worst was EveryPlate with just 3.13%, in fact, there was only one piece of recyclable material across all three meals in their box.

Percentage of Plastic Packet Packaging

We also separated the packaging into plastic, cardboard, and other materials used in the meal kits. We found that the main form of packaging used across all the boxes was plastic. Home Chef has 90% of its packaging as plastic. This amounted to 56 packets across the three meals. Hello Fresh used the least plastic with just 66%, they separated meals in kraft bags, these are recyclable and keep the meals separate.

Plastic Packaging Packets Used Per Ingredient

All four of the companies chosen had more packaging than there were ingredients, which means that some of the ingredients were in several portions. For example, tomato sauce came as a double two-person portion, instead of being sent as a single four-person portion. This meant there was a lot of unnecessary excess packaging waste, with HomeChef having 2.38 packets per ingredient. Blue Apron had the least, however, it was still more packaging than necessary.

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