Recyclable packaging


#22

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


#23

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.


#24

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.


#25

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.


#26

Biodegradable plastics come with their own issues. Oxo degradable materials simply break down into micro plastics a lot quicker. Even materials that truly are biodegradable have to be handled correctly, landfill sites don’t have the conditions for the process to begin and it never happens at sea.

But maybe we won’t need to worry much longer. A British company, Recycling Technologies, are developing technologies to turn plastics of all kinds (including laminated pouches such as pet food and Huel pouches) into a raw material, called Plaxx, which can then be turned into new plastics.

I first heard about this on Radio 4’s Plastic Fantastic, episode 3: What’s the Solution?

RT currently have their RT700 (so called because it can handle 700 tonnes of waste per year) in pre-production testing with Swindon Borough Council.

RT are planning their industrial scale RT7000, with the first to be up and running in Scotland by the end of 2018. There’s a bit about the processes in their surprisingly little-viewed YouTube video, Recycling Technologies is Crowdfunding on Crowdcube. The Crowdcube fundraiser raised £3.6 million of the £1.2 million target.

For my bit, I’ve been keeping hold of all of the used Huel pouches in the hopes of something like this coming along. And they don’t take much space.

But more like two pouches a week as each pouch provides 7,000 calories.

How about, as squizzle said, the idea of bigger bags? There’s going to be an upper limit, but a choice of 10,000 calorie bags for subscribers?


#27

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.


#28

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


#29

Biodegradable hemp plastic still has to be responsibly disposed of, if it ends up in the oceans, it has little chance of ever biodegrading. And if it gets mixed with petrochemical-based plastics then the whole lot is spoiled. Biodegradable plastic ‘false solution’ for ocean waste problem – The Guardian

That’s not even considering the use of agricultural land that could be feeding people. No, the answer is a 100% closed loop economy, where all waste is recycled back into the same quality materials, just as glass and metals are.


#30

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…


#31

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.


#32

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


#33

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.


#34

And there you have answered your own question. Not every environmentally friendly option fits all. Your smartphone/pc/laptop has more environmental impact than your Huel pouches.

I am a firm believer in recycling/reuse…used to recycle many years before we were compelled to. My wife worked for many years for an innovative recycling project.

I see only yesterday some supermarkets reverting to recycled paper bags than plastic, but for many of them it is greenwashing as despite this they still are a major contributor to plastic production.


#35

yes i agree, i surrender folks. all the best. :slightly_smiling_face:


#36

Well done mate. An honest debate where I for one learnt several new things and nobody fell out - result :grinning:


#37

I bloomin’ love this forum. Bunch of lovely people you all are.


#38

One of my local Co-op supermarkets has carrier bags at the checkout made out of corn starch. They’re just like those biodegradable and compostable food waste bags, just a bit bigger than regular compostable bags and with handles.

Compostable carrier bag trial could see Fife shoppers ditch plastic version – The Courier


One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the tape that’s used to seal up the boxes Huel is shipped out in. Nearly all tape – even that stuff that looks like paper – has plastic backing.

There are alternatives made entirely from paper (and some of it recycled too) backed with natural rubber. Some are self-adhesive (Rajapack) and others have to be wetted to activate the gum (Rajapack).


#39

I decided to disassemble one of their bags to see if I can seperate the composite layers. According to the website’s FAQs:

The pouches are currently not recyclable. They are made of a composite of plastic outer layer for strength and waterproofing, and an inner layer of foil to block light which could degrade the micronutrients.

If I am reading this right, one of the main reasons why the bag is not recyclable is because it is too much of a hassle for the recycling center to separate the layers.

After breaking apart one of my empty bags, I discovered that the plastic stretches, but the foil remains rigid. This makes it easier to peel away the plastic from the foil. Separating the layers took me less than 5 minutes to do.

The only part that I could not separate is the annoying paper sticker that contains the nutrition label. This makes the foil even hard to recycle.

Take a look:

The peeled back foil is on the left and the inner plastic lining is on the right. The recyclable material (as in, the corners of the bag were it is too difficult to separate the plastic from the foil is on the upper right corner.

The plastic is easy to recycle (in theory), but the foil… I’m not so sure. There are recycling places that collect bags like this, but they typically reuse then rather than recycle the aluminum.

From reading other postings, here are the main criteria for keeping their current bag:

  • Strength: The bag needs to stay strong and intact during shipping.
  • Cost: The bags need to be economically feasible enough.
  • Protection: The plastic helps with strength and is food safe. The foil is used to block out the damaging rays of light. Lastly, the bag should be air tight and waterproof.

If this is the case, rather than using a composite material, wouldn’t it be best just to use just two bags rather than using one bag with different materials that are adhered together which makes the current bag impossible to recycle?

If they use two bags, then perhaps they can not use foil and use waxed paper instead for the outer layer. It would be water proof and light proof. The inner bag would still be the same type of plastic which can be recycled.


#40

I’d be interested to learn more about the company that’s developing the recycling of the single use plastics.

As a cat owner with fussy cats that only eat a certain pouch (I’ve tried tins!! We had a food riot) I’m quite conscious of the amount of pouches that just go to landfill.


#41

There was a couple of programmes about this last week on Radio 4.

Costing the Earth – Plasticphobia (starts at 23:30). They talk to Steven Mahon of Armstrong Energy, although the company doing the development is ReNewELP. They’re using a process that puts water in supercritical conditions, they claim it’s much higher yield (Wikipedia).

On The Bottom Line – Plastics, they talk with Adrian Griffiths from Recycling Technologies. There’s something going on in Swindon though (incompetence?). Although RT are based in Swindon and were working with the council, Swindon Borough Council have recently informed residents that plastic will be sent for incineration (BBC).