Recyclable packaging

When I walked to my recycle bin to throw away my first empty packet of HUEL I was dismayed to find no recycle symbol.
I came to the forum to express my disappointment but had seen that so many had mentioned this before me and that HUEL’s response is that they are committed to finding an alternative packet that could be recycled but that this will take time. Fine. I’m okay with that if HURL is genuinely and proactively trying to resolve this.

I have not read every post regarding his topic but if HUEL wishes to feed the world then they must look after it too.
Even a small amount of waste is still waste.

I believe in the product, so I will have faith that an alternative solution will be made.

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I personally don’t have any secondary use for the packaging unfortunately. I immediately put my Huel into a bigger container which I find easier to access. I get that you may re-use it, which is great, however, when it’s reached the end of its useful second life it will still end up being something that’ll get buried in the ground or end up in the oceans.

As I mentioned in my original post, I understand the packaging is much reduced in comparison to other foods. My point though is: wouldn’t it be EVEN BETTER if the packaging was recyclable? Obviously yes.

Great to see people are still bringing up this point.

Still disappointing to hear the same old answer being copy pasted from my post in Feb. There has been a call for recyclable packaging since 2015… I’m sure there must be suppliers out there who could provide better packaging.

Even just a bit of google searching and here are some options??

It would be great to get an update on what Huel is working on hard to change the packaging and what the project’s expected timeline is.

Also just a final thought: What about larger packages of the current setup if you cannot change the material? We have 2 people in the house that use Huel so it feels like every month I’m buy 3 packages when it could be 1? Short term solution?

I understand the point about it being less packaging but I’ve been making a huge effort to go zero waste and Huel feels like a compromise. I buy all fruit and veg unpackaged direct from farms, meat package free from butcher, use the scraps from food to make stocks and compost the rest. Other items in my life I try to source with a circular economy, going back to supplier or bulk buying to have less to recycle.
It is disappointing that I have to put Huel in landfill. I know I could stop buying it but it has been really go for my life living with chronic illness.

Please do better.


But with all due respect, this is your choice and your life. With the amount of work that goes into Huel and the way in which they proactively take on feedback and work on it (as we’ve seen countless times on this forum from @JamesCollier and @Tim_Huel ), are you not trusting that they have either:

1: Got something in the works already
2: Exhausted all avenues of investigation for this
3: Found possible solutions to have negative impact to Huel as a product and/or brand

I just feel like there are people who will never be happy and have unrealistic demands of a business that is already 100% the most environmentally conscious company I’ve come across.

It’s all well and good having your own strong opinions on this but if Tim says it’s been looked at with no solution let’s bloody well get behind him and trust the statement instead of just QQing this thread.

The only extremely valid point I’ve seen brought up is the larger bags. I’d happily buy a 2.5KG bag with full confidence that I’d use it within two weeks.

Any kind of reusable packaging that has to be sent back to Huel instantly has a bigger carbon footprint than one that ends up in landfill. The only economical and environmentally efficient way of doing this would be bundling say 100 bags together and THEN sending them back.

We can make the excuse “yes but that delivery lorry would be travelling that way regardless”, but if we start making assumptions and forgetting the little details then we may as well all just give up on the environment.


I also trust that they have looked into it without finding a solution. Also, in my case, I am not willing to pay extra for a recycable bag. Huel is already fairly costly for my strained economy - even if many save money using Huel, I am not one of them. I do feel good on it and I love Huel so I manage. But an increase in price, even slightly, might mean I can no longer afford it.

However, I can get behind bigger bags. I use a bag in 6 days or so.


We’ve done extensive drop tests on a number of pouches very similar to this. Paper is not strong enough to hold 1.75kg of Huel. If we switched to something like this, please consider the implications:

You’ve spent £40 or more on your Huel and you find it burst I expect, like most, you would email customer service and request a replacement, refund and/or throw away the burst pouch. Which wastes possibly 28,000kcal of food, and increases carbon footprint from extra delivery. From our side this is bad financially too. This is what it looks like when a pouch bursts:


Now as you can see this already happens very occasionally with our current, extremely strong pouches. This effect would be multiplied 10x I expect if we switched to a fully biodegradable pouch with what we’ve looked at. Here’s why:

Currently we can get a 1.5kg biodegradable pouch, but it would only work if the pouch was basically handheld the entire journey it just isn’t suitable for ecom. Packages get dropped, thrown and damaged between us and the consumer. No one that sells powdered products has tried this with the 1.5kg pouch. The only people that have tried it are dog food companies, it works for them because biscuits, when dropped, disperse their pressure evenly focusing the pressure everywhere. Powder’s weight is all through the bottom of the pouch on the seams and means the bottom falls out/seams at bottom break. There isn’t currently a glue that is strong enough to prevent this.

We could do a ‘recyclable’ pouch. The problem then is the infrastructure, yes it could be ‘recycled’ but if not many places recycles it then what’s the point? It’s an empty gesture which has marketing spin all over it.

We’re going to do it once and we’re going to do it right.

There is a timeline, we have a plan and possible solutions. This industry is slow, I can only apologise.


Tim has convered most points. But I just want to add in respect of the returning and recylcling point - the pouched couldn’t just be refilled or there would be risk of microbial, allergen and foreign body contamination. This wouldn’t pass our quality procedures (nor would anyone want it to). The pouch would have to be mailed back, and cleaned throuroughly - that would have more of an envirnmental impact than the pouch.


i’m sorry but the response from @Tim_Huel although polite and friendly, is a bit of a cop out. ‘we produce plastic waste that goes in landfill or the oceans m’lord, but it’s less than others produce’. yeah.

Where there is a will there is a way. There’s natural waxed paper/card, even organic. How about plastic made from corn starch that bio-degrades after contact with water in your compost. If i was not typing i could be writing with my Corn biro.
i’m reading the back of my 1.75kg bag of Huel now. no info on how i should recycle or bio-degrade it after use. Nothing, nada, zillo. Hello this is 2018, we put a man on the moon in 1969.

Not strong enough for the reasons Tim mentioned.

Huge issue if the places you are shipping from or to are too humid. Also provide a weaker layer of protection which is extremely important when you have all micronutrients necessary for bacterial growth present in one place, and only a moisture barrier is keeping it protected.

Your corn biro has nothing to do with food storage.

I was unaware the Huel team (who set up in 2013 I believe) were responsible for the moon landing.

Given Huel are a relatively new company, combined with the fact that the packaging industry doesn’t really have anything available in the required size, it’s a little unfair to expect them to reduce their plastic waste to literally nothing.


Hi, I wanna give voice to this problem too, I don’t like that we don’t have an option for now and I can understand that finding a solution that satisfies customers and the Huel team can be very hard. If this kinds of threads makes pressure on the Huel team towards a solution I’m happy to contribute.
Also, don’t wanna sound like the Huel team is betraying us or something, I’m sure that this topic is important to them too but delivering the product in a good status, being durable and as cheap as they can, weights more than the recyclable bag and I get it.

Good job Huel team, just keep looking into a solution.


did you even read the most recent response from Tim? Your summary doesn’t really do it justice, he went to great lengths explaining why the drawbacks of using currently available recyclable packing outweigh the benefits (namely - that the bags are much, much more likely to break in transit, resulting in a waste of lots of bags of Huel as well as having to sort out the resulting mess, meaning more bags need to be sent out)

“We produce less waste” would be kind of a cop out if we were talking about maybe 5 or 10%, but the whole point here is that a week’s worth of Huel (if you’re using it 100%) produces 1 plastic bag worth of plastic waste. That’s a great deal more than 10% less than the amount of plastic most people get through in a week’s worth of food, you’re probably talking 90-95%, except in the cases of people who already make a real effort to reduce their plastic consumption and are pretty successful at it.

In all the posts I’ve seen where Tim or anyone from Huel has talked about this, they’ve never made the argument that the current packaging is ideal and exactly as it should be. The point is, it’s a pretty bloody good starting point while they try to find a better solution


greetings. yes i did read tim’s post first, i get that there’s some valid difficulties pointed out. i don’t wish to offend and appreciate there’s some good work been done. But isn’t there a solution to be found? For example to the ‘Paper is not strong enough to hold 1.75kg of Huel…’ comment… then why not protect the paper, or whatever inner food-safe carrier is chosen, with an outer cardboard box? without looking too hard i can wander into my kitchen and grab some ‘food grade non-stick baking paper’ from a local grocers. And the 15m roll came in a ‘box made from recycled board’. The paper is ‘treated with silicones which repel sticky… bla bla’. My job is Software development, not packaging so i’ll stop here and give Huel a thank you for a great product.

I mean - I get what you’re saying, the problem is you’re acting like they’re saying that there’s never going to be a solution that gets Huel that tiny bit further that will result in recyclable packaging. They’ve never said they’re not looking into it - only that there aren’t any viable options that are implementable right now and it will take time.

To put it in software development terms (well… software terms at least) - you’re bemoaning them for not running Windows 10, but it’s the 90s and nobody has anything faster than a Pentium 3 and nowhere near enough storage. You need to give it time!

Meanwhile, Huel gives you the absolute bare minimum amount of plastic waste you could possible hope to have to throw away after consuming a week’s worth of calories and nutrients, without going to great personal lengths to ensure that you use absolutely zero plastic. Just because it’s not quite a 100% reduction of plastic doesn’t mean it’s not an absolutely vast improvement for most people with busy lives.


hi again. i enjoyed your 1990s windows 10 analogy and yes i should acknowledge that huel hasn’t given up looking. What springs to mind though is a fictitious dev meeting room at Apple without S.J & before the lisa or macintosh… there’s a brief to find something else other than the keyboard or clunky trackballs to do fine screen input. the team say the technology isn’t there yet so they have to wait… yet up the road Xerox were already using a mouse.

That’s because the pouch cannot be recycled or biodegrade. We’ve covered this.

This technology is very interesting to us.

OK but that’s twice as much paper wastage. Plastic waste is important but we need to look at everything.

This surely can therefore not be recycled then? Sorry for not thoroughly researching this but a quick Google suggests it cannot be recycled.

When paper is recycled, it is broken down by water, which makes wax paper’s moisture resistance a liability. Like grease and other food residue, the wax cannot really be removed from the paper during the recycling process.

This further highlights our flawed recycling culture/bubble. We put stuff in recycling and don’t look further than that and end up feeling erroneously altruistic. Just looked up other myths and was surprised to see this. Thoughts on the below?

  • packaging covered in food cannot be recycled
  • recycling contained in plastic bag cannot be recycled
  • plastic bottles with the plastic top on still cannot be recycled

@neeklamy Thanks for the points, will pass them on to the ops team.


You can always use biodegradable hemp plastic for the packaging, just saying.

hi, all interesting stuff. i hadn’t thought of some of those issues. i wonder if just the silicone or wax coated paper lining could just be landfilled ok, dust to dust and all that, the outer box composted or recycled.

But for more brainstorming to amuse you. I’ve been in my kitchen again.
step 1. grab 2 sheets of 100% recycled eco-standard A4 paper.
smear 1 side of the inner sheet with a few drops of veg oil.


step 2. do some folding… (oil side facing inside).


step 3. put some powder in… 7 to 10 scoops.


et voila :slight_smile:


support by a cardboard box, who knows. just brain storming…


Think this covers the oil covered paper above. Worth a try, but I imagine companies spending millions on research of recycled materials have already coated paper in oil and found it not to work.

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Honestly, I’d let it go and leave the pros to it!


It’s something I’ve thought about as well, and I’d like to see a change.

If the issue is shelf life, then why not offer a resealable, branded, re-usable container, which could be washed and reused many times, to store the product. That would allow for the option of an alternative recycled/recyclable packaging for shipment? There’s a lot of work going into natural and totally biodegradable packaging solutions in various countries right now, such as India, which has just banned the use of single use plastics.

I’d have absolutely no problem paying extra for this or signing a disclaimer each time I purchase, that making this choice could mean my product could be damaged and leak in transit. It already comes in a big cardboard box, so damage in transit is less likely. I’d also like to see the plastic air pouches for shipping stop being used, and something made from a recycled/recyclable material used instead.

No matter how small the amount of plastic currently used is, we should always be looking at ways to stop using it altogether, and switch to biodegradable products. I agree though, that it has to be considered and will take time.