Packaging is undoubtedly one of the infuriating conundrums of modern times, because for all the positive noise and good intentions, there are simply no instant, off-the-shelf solutions for companies like us, as that need to maximise shelf life and survive getting the product to store or delivered to your home.
Purition comes from a relative position of strength
From the outset, it’s probably worth noting that Purition comes from a relative position of strength. As a young, environmentally aware business, we generate very little waste, certainly no (finished product) food waste. Neither do we use any single-use plastic throughout our production processes, whilst all incoming packaging is either recycled, or in the case of essential pallets reused. Our pouches are made from un-recyclable plastic and it bugs the hell out of us every day. Yet our pouches themselves are a pretty efficient packaging format when you consider that a 500g bag weighs only 20g, yet contains 12 small, well-balanced meals. The plastics we currently use aren’t widely recyclable but at <2g per meal, we compare favourably to most supermarket purchased foods. Naturally, we’re working hard to find a credible and sustainable plastic-free alternative, but the compostable materials we’ve explored thus fall far short of what we would insist upon.
We’ve already cut out over 1000kgs of single use plastic
by removing plastic scoops from every bag. Latest figure: 1637kg, updated December 2020.
Committed to quality & integrity
The reason why current pouches aren’t recyclable lies with our unwavering commitment to ingredient quality and integrity; be that preventing moisture, light and air from sneaking in or any natural oils escaping. Our present-day pouches are assembled from 3 layers of different plastics laminated together, which can only be recycled by specialist companies; none of which exist in the UK.
Over the last two years the Purition team has explored all-manner of alternative packaging options from tin and aluminium to non-laminated plastics like LDPE… For the time-being at least there are only 4 packaging materials that are widely recycled (curbside) across the UK: glass, metals (steel & aluminium) HDPE (plastic milk bottles) and paper & ‘clean,’ cardboard.
Would we ever consider jars, tins, pots or cardboard tubes?
A strategy that involves importing fresh air and having empty, non-stacking packaging made from glass or metal arriving on our doorstep is clearly ‘flawed’ thinking; since we’d simply be swapping out landfill for larger (and equally unpalatable) carbon emissions.
Dependable cardboard and metal would still require a plastic bag, so once again there’s no obvious environmental gains to be made, because at this very moment in time, even simple cardboard tubes aren’t recycled?
Any plastic other than HDPE (High-Density PolyEthylen), although technically recyclable, isn’t routinely recycled throughout the UK. In the case of HDPE, if it’s not clean it’s heading to landfill anyway!
We’ve even contemplated plastic bags made from LDPE, which could theoretically be recycled with plastic carrier bags from the supermarkets as a halfway staging post until we’re in a better position to go 100%, plastic-free.
We’ve looked into and tested ‘compostable bags,’ however once again we’re really dealing with ‘fake news’ here because you can only compost them at home (you can’t even pop them into your green bin) because they refuse to break down easily (100+ days at 70 degrees) and you certainly couldn’t compost several at the same time.
The very fact your local council won’t compost them invariably means landfill, which typically falls short because few landfills can replicate the ‘compost heap’ style of environment that’s necessary to succeed.
A common misconception is that compostable bags can be recycled, they can’t! So if you hear brands talking about saving the planet with compostable materials they’re either ill-formed or attempting to pull the wool over your eyes.
Paper refill bags…
That just leaves good old fashioned paper bags, which for now remains our last hope. We’re currently testing a cellulose (plant cells) coated paper that can be recycled with other paper products. Further development is afoot to see if we can get cellulose coated paper to hold 500g of product and still survive the delivery process or if we can pack everything in sachets.
We’re also considering paper refill bags for existing customers that could be recycled.
Update December 2020: Paper packaging has arrived! This is the first step to our 2021 goal of our packaging being fully recyclable with curb-side collection household recycling. Goal for 2022? To be 100% plastic free.
Our very special building at Purition HQ
- – Second highest environmental rating
- – We flush loos with rain water
- – We heat water & underfloor heating with sunlight
- – We buy electricity from renewables
- – We only buy carbon neutral energy
Clearly we’re pleased to be more environmentally aware than most, but that’s no excuse to rest on our laurels. There is always opportunity for us to do more.
We welcome your feedback and if you have any comments please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org