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Customer shares disappointment in HelloFresh after opening delivery meal kit: 'It breaks my heart'

One of the main benefits of meal kits is that there's supposed to be no food waste.

One of the main benefits of meal kits is that there’s supposed to be no food waste.

Photo Credit: iStock

When trying to minimize waste and pollution in one area, it's sadly common to lose sight of the goal and increase waste in another area. Two concerns that often clash are food waste and plastic packaging. One customer using a meal prep kit from HelloFresh just showed the internet a perfect example.

What happened?

"Hello consumerism," said the Redditor's post about the problem on r/Anticonsumption. This subreddit is dedicated to cutting back waste both to reduce expenses for members and to lower the burden of pollution and resource use on the planet.

One of the main benefits of meal kits is that there's supposed to be no food waste.
Photo Credit: Reddit

The post came with a photo: the photographer's hand holding a vacuum-sealed plastic package containing four individual slices of cheese. In the background, more packages of sauce are visible alongside the prep instructions for the meal.

"This is four slices of cheese from HelloFresh," said the original poster. "So much wasted plastic, it breaks my heart."

This isn't the first time HelloFresh has been called out for excessive packaging. Another customer previously highlighted the wasteful way it wrapped individual garlic cloves.

Other meal kit services have also run into similar problems.

Why does the packaging matter?

One of the main benefits of meal kits is that there's supposed to be no food waste. The company sends you the exact ingredients you need for a set menu, so you don't have to waste money on produce that will go bad before you can use it or worry that you're harming the planet.

But if the plastic packaging in the kit drives the price up, and if it pollutes the environment enough, then a meal kit could do more harm than good to both your wallet and the world. The more plastic they use, the greater the risk.

What is HelloFresh doing about waste?

A HelloFresh representative told The Cool Down that while HelloFresh strives to provide pre-portioned ingredients for customers, which can reduce food waste, the packaging issue is on their radar and is being addressed. 

"We are acutely aware that this results in some ingredients being individually packaged and wrapped," the representative said of HelloFresh's practices. "We strive to minimize the packaging we use, and continuously seek and develop more sustainable solutions (i.e., paper vs. plastic)." 

"The company reduced the total weight of plastic packaging per meal by 46% between 2020 and 2023," they pointed out. "We're also mindful that packaging plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and freshness of our products, helping us deliver the high-quality ingredients expected by our customers."

HelloFresh says on its website that its customers create 70% fewer food scraps during food prep and 45% less household food waste than the general population. Thanks to a shorter supply chain that prioritizes domestic suppliers, HelloFresh says its customers can cut their carbon pollution by 31% compared to those cooking with the same ingredients from a supermarket.

The HelloFresh website also offers instructions for recycling some of its typical packaging materials, including select plastic packages. Unfortunately, those instructions do say to throw some of its plastic wrappers in the garbage — only specially marked items are recyclable.

What can I do to cut down on plastic and food waste?

If you want to prepare HelloFresh's meals without all the excess plastic, the company offers recipes on its site. You can use them to plan your meals and pick up ingredients from a source that uses less packaging — like an eco-friendly grocery store or some local growers. Sometimes you can even grow your own veggies

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