Food Drink Devon’s ‘Sustainability Hero of the Month’ is Packed Kitchen! We asked Matt Webb, co-founder of Packed Kitchen, to tell us about what they are doing to create a more sustainable business.
What have you done to make your business more environmentally friendly?
We were one of the first meal prep companies in the country to use completely compostable and plastic-free packaging. We encourage all of our customers to compost or recycle our meal pack containers.
We are continually striving to have a more seasonal menu that utilises more local ingredients and produce, reducing food miles.
Our meals are delivered around the UK by DPD who assure us their deliveries are carbon-neutral.
We have also begun to compost some of our food waste on-site, reducing the amount we put into waste streams. We recently welcomed a student Green consultant from the University of Exeter to undertake a review of our business and come up with recommendations as to how we can become more sustainable.
What would you like to change in the future to improve your sustainability credentials further?
We want to completely eliminate single-use packaging from our service. Regardless of it being plastic or a bio-friendly material, there is still a carbon cost to each and every unit of packaging created. By finding a suitable reusable material we will be able to allow our customers to return their packaging after use which we think is more sustainable. This extends from not only our cardboard boxes but also the insulation and the individual meal containers that the food is served in.
We are also looking for more traceability in all of our ingredients. For example, we just don’t know enough about our spices and herbs. It’s easy to overlook these small components, but what if we are unwittingly negatively impacting people and the environment because we’re turning a blind eye. We are therefore changing suppliers to find spice and herb suppliers that offer full traceability on all of their products. This will give us peace of mind that every component of our meals is ethically and sustainably sourced.
We would love to find a way to offset the energy we use in the kitchen through electricity. We have changed to the most eco-friendly supplier we could find, but can we offset this or even capture our own energy? This is something we want to find an answer to within the coming months.
What tips do you have for other businesses that would like to become more sustainable?
Be critical. We can be guilty of accepting greenwashed marketing campaigns and assuming things are good for the environment simply because they say they are. Yes, single-use plastics are bad, but what is the environmental impact of their ‘eco-friendly’ replacements. They were still created in a factory, transported and will be thrown away after one use. Better, but still not perfect. We need to be critical of everything we see and be creative to find solutions that may not exist (or be well known) yet. We need to make it as easy as possible for the consumer to be sustainable – because if it requires any effort whatsoever, they are unlikely to do it.