First, thank you. We’ve heard from so many of you that a more sustainable packaging solution is incredibly important to you. We’re grateful for the feedback, as it’s helped shape our path forward.
Since our early days, we’ve hoped to find a more sustainable packaging for our meals. And while we’ve taken steps toward it along the way, we hadn’t been able to find a significantly more sustainable solution that met our safety, durability and operational standards … until now.
Thanks to our partnership with World Centric we’re thrilled to share where we’ve landed. Our new 100% compostable packaging begins the same place it ends. Made from annually renewable resources, it breaks down during composting in 3-6 months to make nutrient-rich soil – starting the process all over again.
Two of the leading forces behind the packaging shift initiative, our Executive Chef Stefan Niemczyk and Operations Lead Steve Seeger share a bit more about the process leading up to the transition and what it means for you, your food, and ultimately – our environment.
Note: our new packaging is currently live in our West Coast locations, and coming soon to the DFW and DMV areas. Stay tuned!
SO, WHY CHANGE FROM CURRENT PACKAGING?
Long story short – it’s the right thing to do. As leaders in the prepared meals space we wanted to set the standard for others to follow while simultaneously addressing an ongoing concern that our customers voiced.
We recognized that because of our scale, the actions we take as a business have major implications on this world, and we don’t ignore that responsibility.
WHAT DID THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE TO FIND THIS SOLUTION?
We researched and executed a series of customer panels and operational pilots to ensure that this new packaging alternative would address our customers’ request for a more sustainable option while not compromising our system viability.
We spent months testing different material combinations, measuring effects on shelf life, durability and environmental impact. We teamed up with leading manufacturers in the sustainable packaging space and smoothed out the sourcing logistics for our chefs. As with any big change, we encountered lots of failures, and even more lessons learned.
The pilot process was the critical part that ultimately led us to the packaging solution we’re so proud to roll out across the company.
WHICH IS WHAT? SPILL THE BEANS.
It’s the right combination of:
- Improved sustainability.
- Departure from single use plastic, and into the world of commercial composting.
- No meaningfully sacrifice on the customer experience – especially around meal freshness and durability during delivery logistics.
On the sustainability piece, there are some significant beginning and end of life benefits for this product, compared to the single use plastic:
- Our new packaging uses less energy to manufacture than our current plastic options.
- They’re made from annually renewable plants like wheat, sugarcane and corn; but, are still completely gluten free and are safe for those hoping to avoid corn or sugar products.
- They are non-polluting and non-toxic and break down into healthy soil in a commercial composting facility.
- Manufacturing of these products produces less pollution than wood and petroleum based products.
- They’re approved for food use by the FDA.
- For more information about the life cycle of our new packaging, take it straight from the source.
THERE ARE LOTS OF COMPANIES OUT THERE PRODUCING COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING SOLUTIONS. WHY PARTNER WITH WORLD CENTRIC?
We searched high and low for the right packaging product partner, and couldn’t be more thrilled to have landed with World Centric. They’re a leader in the compostable packaging space, particularly around innovation. So, as this industry grows, we can stay ahead of the curve and continue to improve as new, better options are created.
And they lead with integrity and purpose. Each year they donate at least 25% of their net profits to support projects around the world that promote social and economic development, environmental education, and waste reduction. They also partner with environmental and social organizations whose programs not only offset their carbon emissions, but also create regenerative ecosystems.
We’re mega fans, and couldn’t be prouder to be a partner.
WHERE CAN I DISPOSE MY CONTAINER?
Since the container has a layer of PLA (to provide better moisture barrier properties), it should only be composted in a commercial composting facility. The lid is also PLA and should be disposed of in the same fashion. Check with your local waste municipality if you are unsure if you have commercial composting available.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A COMPOST OPTION NEAR ME?
If there is no commercial composting option available in your area, the lid and container should go in the standard waste bin. Note: they should NOT be added to your recycling.
IS THIS PACKAGING SOLUTION BETTER IN THE TRASH THAN PLASTIC?
While PLA and Plastic both take a long time to degrade in a normal landfill, the overall sustainability lifecycle for a PLA product is much more carbon neutral than petroleum-based plastics, and we do feel it is a big step forward. Ideally, the PLA goes through a commercial composting facility for quickest composting results. If your local municipality doesn’t offer it, let your voice be heard.
IS IT MICROWAVE AND OVEN SAFE?
Yep. Just pop the lid off before you heat them, as they’re not heat-safe. The bowls are microwavable and oven safe up to 350 degrees.
HOW LONG WILL MY FOOD STAY FRESH IN THE NEW PACKAGING?
Same as usual (~ 4 days). We’ve ensured that our meals maintain their freshness and shelf life, even in our new packaging.
WHAT’S THE PACKAGING MADE FROM?
- Wheat straw fiber and corn. Bowls are made of plant-based fiber and lined with PLA.
- Lids are PLA. They look and feel like plastic, but, they’re actually derived from corn. Amaize-ing!
- Neither product will result in gluten or corn allergic reaction.
We see this as a major step in the right direction on the ongoing sustainability quest. More to come on this front soon! In the meantime, if you have questions or feedback, the line is always open at firstname.lastname@example.org.