Zero waste - Returning packaging for reuse

Thinking long term, and the plan to ban single use plastics i’ve been trying to source other products in bulk, things like shampoo and shower gels etc and trying to think about the carbon emission issue. I would really like to buy in 5 litre tubs which are recyclable but the cost of shipping and the obvious carbon emissions of transporting it around doesn’t make it viable either. But what about a refill shop, the same for huel where you could take your containers and refill them. Or even better, localised Huel production plants, and local farmers producing the food. Is that something worth exploring.

Switch to shampoo bars and body soap. I’ve been cutting down on plastic and those were the easiest things to sort out.

Local Huel depots would be cool but Huel is nowhere near popular enough for that to make financial sense.

edit: here’s some soap/bar shampoo I’ve been using. I do prefer shower gel but I can cope without it. And my hair felt weird for a couple of weeks but it’s nice again now.

They also do a bar of shaving soap, and it’s absolutely shit.


I use Friendly soaps and shampoo bars…they are damn good. I even have a travel tin now. I’ve not tried the shaving bar tho.

My mrs is trying a soap bar. Cheers for the link, I’ll take a look. I only shave once, maybe twice a week. I wouldn’t bother at all but her in doors doesn’t like it. Not such a bad thing at times, like garlic to a vampire lol.

The shampoos looks good, I gonna buy one as for the shaving soap, just found out at work today we’re allowed to have beards. Was told the first day I started all staff have to be clean shaven. Someone confronted the manager about this rule and said no other store has that policy why just us? He found out it’s because the manager doesn’t like them she thinks their unprofessional and unhygienic but she can’t stop employees if they want to have them. So a bunch of lads are growing them now just to piss her off.

So I’m probably just gonna stop shaving now.


plastics technology is constantly evolving and traditional ‘hard to recycle’ packaging such as multi layer packs are a prime focus on improvement - there are many advances coming through the prototype stages which make recycling very easy such as this:

however these new methods will still rely on the adoption of recycling plants to move to this new technology which is always the sticking point. It is not feasible for brand owners such as Huel to go into a large scale investment to do their own recycling so while they could adopt these new pack technologies there would still need to be the reliance on the recycling industry following suit.

Long story short – you as a consumer are better served lobbying your local government and political parties to prioritise investment in new recycling technology. Large MNC brand owners are creating their own recycling programs too but the sad reality is too many people demonise plastics without doing much about it.

‘Zero carbon’ yacht trips for outraged ranting in the UN would be a prime example – especially when the yacht is loaded with single use drinking water bottles (rather than fitting a water reclamation system) and then everyone flying home instead of sailing back.

PET is easily recyclable under current technology but in the UK the percentage of it that is returned for recycling is minute and barely breaks into a double figure percentage. This means that brand owners who want to use food grade PETr from recycled materials face chronic shortages.

1 Like

This was a really damning report but sadly indicative of the publics general attitude to plastics and recycling. Consumers tend to hold manufacturers & brands responsible for tackling plastic waste, but don’t seem to see the need to worry about it themselves.

The report found that 48% see manufacturers as being primarily responsible for tackling plastic waste, as opposed to governments (24%), retailers (7%) or themselves (19%). Less than a quarter of the 65,000 people interviewed in 24 countries believe they should be taking any personal responsibility for their plastic waste, while half expect manufacturers to take the lead on tackling the issue.

It also found that nearly half the respondents had little or no interest in environmental challenges and do not choose products because of their sustainability credentials.,-Who-Does-Consumer-response-to-plastic-waste

1 Like

Hmm, I normally don’t comment on these kinds of things, but this intriguing topic.

What about making the packaging for powder completely vacuum sealed, removing ziploc portion and making the entire packaging compostable? And similar to how first-time customers get a plastic shaker, t-shirt, etc. ship a clear plastic branded container to store the Huel powder on arrival (which could maybe conveniently have scoop storage). I would think that this might save some money especially for recurring purchases as packaging might be a more minimal (no need to include a ziploc style bag.)

Just a suggestion, interested in hearing what people think.


The main problem with packaging being compostable is that it requires specific conditions to compost and virtually nobody has a composter at home, so it will end up in the general rubbish which will be inside a bin liner.

Also taking away the ability to reseal the pouches will not be popular, unless some type of free clamp is provided for any new pouch.

1 Like

Yeap Coup is spot on. Compostable or biodegradable packaging are just examples of greenwashing at the moment. They don’t breakdown at all, or for years, at home so they have to send to niche facilities that aren’t available everywhere.

I like the idea of refill option though! It would be cool to have a super sleek forever Huel container in your kitchen and then refill pouches for subsequent orders.

1 Like

That would be great, Alas, I’d have to have at least 8 - 4 smaller ones for H&S and 4 for the various varieties of powder as I have several on the go at once.

1 Like

What about the huel tubs the protein powders come in. They would be quite good for huel storage when u have finished your tub. Still working my way through my 2 tubs yet but thought about this way to store powder rather than throwing away. :blush:

1 Like

I am planning to use mine for h&s but same as you, not through them yet.

1 Like

If you managed to incorporate a scale (to avoid scoopgate v5.0) and Huel branding, this is pretty slick.


I think that could cause issues getting the powder fluffy and equally distributed after decant.
Would definitely save some packaging/ shipping costs by virtue of being smallest.

Hi - yes we covered a lot of these in this old post - I really liked the idea of compressed blocks too but the aeration and packing would require a higher degree of difficulty and a whole new packing line sadly.


I’m going to have to contradict this. This is true for certain biodegradable packaging, mainly that made from PLA, for which the designation of “biodegradable” is questionable at best, as it takes 6+ months to break down even in industrial settings.

However, the option we have been using for some time now can be seen here:

Not sure if that store will stock bags in quite the right size for you as your bags ship in larger bulk than ours I think, but they handle up to about 1kg of powder with ease. Instead of PLA, they use a mix of cellulose film and starch film internally, and Kraft paper externally.

As a result, and in line with both their advertising and our testing, they break down fully in a home compost in about 10 weeks (66 days in our testing), and for those who don’t have a home compost, they can also simply be deposited in food waste bins instead.

Hey, it’s good to see you again Joe! Thanks your input and sharing the above, you always bring some interesting and deep insights to the forum.

I wasn’t aware of this company so they may be the real deal. I’ve had a chat with the Packaging team and while I can’t comment on this company specifically as there’s a lot of information missing to give a proper reply, I’ll give some general comments that may/may not apply to this type of packaging.

Often companies that talk about starch films are really using bioplastics. In other words plastics that are made from plant-sources instead of oil which still comes with its own issues. In particular we’ve found a lot of sustainability concerns around the sourcing and growing of this material.

When referencing biodegradability timeframes it’s super important to know the exact conditions even when it’s stated that the packaging can be composted at home as the two may not line up. On top of this there are no standard compatibility/biodegradability regulations in the UK so it’s an area where these terms can be thrown around but mean different things from one company to the next.

Do you know if the company has got certification from OPRL and whether the use of mixed materials contaminates the recyclability stream?

1 Like

I was thinking that while reading it too - there is no technical information on their site, but I know that depending on the plant source of the starch - the barrier properties can be wildly different to each other in their efficacy.

yeah - also if the bioplastic has been created so that it has a rapid degradation like this - that also usually means its barrier properties become less effective quicker too, narrowing the range of products that you can use to package with it. Starch and cellulose films traditionally can have good oxygen barriers but are not great with moisture normally - direct water contact can even start breaking the fibre structure down.


Thank you, it’s good to pop in from time to time.

It’s been quite a while since we made the switch so I’m going to try to dig out the reference sheets they sent us when we asked these questions directly - I remember being very surprised but it seeming like a genuinely good solution.

I’ll post here again as and when we find the documentation :slight_smile:

1 Like