The meal-kit provider HelloFresh is doing away with black plastic packaging. Black plastic is seen as a problem because automated sorting in recycling plants using near infrared technology cannot currently recognise this plastic, so that it cannot be recycled. The decision to eliminate black plastic packaging in Germany and Austria is part of HelloFresh Germany’s sustainability strategy.
“Black plastic is currently the in the spotlight where packaging recyclability is concerned. By doing away with black plastic packaging, we are helping to ensure that a sustainable cycle is possible for all plastic packaging used in HelloFresh meal-kit delivery,” says Nils Herrmann, Managing Director of HelloFresh Germany and Austria. “Through initiatives like this, we’re seeking to further reduce our ecological footprint, including reducing the volume of packaging and using recyclable or recycled materials. This underlines our commitment to sustainable packaging and a closed value chain.”
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Black plastic packaging poses a challenge for the recycling value chain due to the pigment used: Recycling facilities use near infrared (NIR) technology to identify the packaging to be recycled. The optical sensors use reflected light to detect the material and sort it accordingly. However, these optical sensors cannot properly recognise black plastic packaging for sorting because of the pigment.
As part of its sustainability strategy, HelloFresh is working to optimise the balance between safe shipping and ecological impact. This includes reducing packaging volume and using more sustainable packaging materials and recyclable or recycled materials. The company recently announced that it would only use paper cooler bags for shipping goods requiring refrigeration. The new HelloFresh bags are made from recycled paper and can be easily disposed of in the paper bin.