5 Packaging innovations made by HelloFresh
Across all markets, HelloFresh is strongly committed to "Avoid, Reduce, Innovate," when it comes to packaging. We need to ensure the highest quality, fresh ingredients and safe transport, so it’s not always possible to entirely avoid packaging. That’s why we have been developing innovative solutions that allow us to reduce packaging or optimize it for recycling. Many of these solutions are developed and tested in our Packaging Labs.
1. The Paper Pouch – a cooling pouch made of paper
The HelloFresh Paper Pouch is our sustainable cooling pouch made of recycled paper. It can easily be recycled via paper waste. But how can paper keep ingredients like yogurt and meat cool? Thanks to “air cushions” between the individual layers of paper, insulating properties are maintained and potentially melted water is kept from leaking. The Paper Pouch meets strict legal requirements and follows a temperature management concept norm co-developed by HelloFresh (DIN SPEC 91360 (in German)). It was developed in collaboration with students from Lund University in Sweden and a medium-sized company from Germany that specializes in unique applications and special processing of paper. It was first launched in 2019 and is currently put to use in Germany and Sweden.
Our specially developed Paper Pouch is made of recycled paper.
2. The water-based ice pack – a whole new concept
To keep our ingredients chilled as they encounter different climate conditions on their way to our customers, we use ice packs. Normally, these ice packs are produced by mixing water with a polymer, creating a gel containing microplastics. This prevents the ice pack from being recyclable. We were looking for a more sustainable solution, so we developed 100 percent recyclable water-based ice packs. After one to three days in the freezer, the water-filled plastic bags are ready for shipping. Not only were we looking for the most sustainable solution, we decided to go one step further. To minimize the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, we launched our first in-house production of water-based ice packs in the UK. Today, we additionally produce water-based ice packs in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and thus save unnecessary transport routes and CO2 emissions.
Our in-house production of water-based ice packs.
3. The ice configurator – refrigeration for every climate zone
To understand how many ice packs are needed, it’s important to consider all factors that might influence the amount required. Supply chains of different lengths and cooling pouches of varied design have different cooling requirements and therefore have different requirements for the amount of ice needed. Our ice configurator uses an algorithm to calculate the number of ice packs required, based on the duration of the transport, the outside temperature and the ingredients delivered. An order that is sent and delivered in the same city requires less ice for refrigeration than an order that may have to travel for several hundred kilometers before reaching its customer.
4. The packaging configurator – packaging demand automatically calculated
We also use algorithms to analyse the space and amount of packaging needed for a specific set of ingredients in our meal kit boxes. Our very own packaging configurator defines the most resource-efficient type of packaging. The packaging configurator predicts our use of packaging completely autonomously and dynamically. It helps us combine our key objectives – functionality, cost efficiency and sustainability – despite weekly changing orders, in the most efficient way. We will soon be launching the packaging configurator 2.0 – a new system that will enable us to determine the volume of ingredients in a box even more precisely and thus enable us to further reduce our use of packaging.
5. The reusable box – a continuous development process
HelloFresh has already made a lot of progress in the area of sustainable packaging solutions. And we’re not stopping here. For example, as part of several academic projects, we have worked with students and scientists to design a reusable HelloFresh box. The box is not disposed of and recycled, but is picked up by our delivery service within the following week, filled with new ingredients and used again for another shipment. We are currently testing this concept in several markets, including the Netherlands and in Australia.
HelloFresh wins second place at the Sustainability Award in Logistics 2020.
"Even though our environmentally friendly packaging innovations make us very proud, we’re not stopping here. Consistent quality, eco-friendliness and functionality of our packaging are our top priorities," explains Thomas Regenhardt, Head of Packaging at HelloFresh. "We are continuously working on becoming even more sustainable and innovative. We are particularly pleased when our work is recognized. Our sustainability efforts in the area of transport packaging and supply chain were recognized just recently in the fall of 2020 with second place at the Sustainability Award of the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL) e.V. (German Logistics Association)."