Plastic Free July is a great reminder to reflect on your business's environmental impact.
As a local food business owner in 2022, you have likely become familiar with adapting to changing operating environments and customer trends. In the last decade, research has shown that the increase in waste, especially from single-use plastics, has devastating impacts on the environment.
So how can you start to address this when operating your food business? Making more sustainable choices is a great place to start.
Why sustainability should be top of mind
Not only is adopting more sustainable practices good for the planet - it can be better for business too!
Adopting a more sustainable approach to running your weekly meal business will likely save you the effort in the future. Governments are aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging and are continuing to impose regulations on businesses to ensure more sustainable approaches. Why not get ahead of the ball and implement these now.
Another key reason driving many businesses to reevaluate their approach to sustainability is consumer trends. As more research reveals the devastating impact of climate change consumers are more conscious of the role they play and are choosing to make purchase decisions that align with their values. Adapting to these values presents a great opportunity for your business, to tap into customers' interests and maybe find some new ones too whilst also strengthening your business's reputation.
Where should I start?
Looking at your operating procedures and practices is a great place to start. Take time to review these and reflect on their environmental impact.
Packaging is a critical area in which food businesses, big and small, can lead the charge in making changes. Plastic packaging and single-use plastic are areas of primary concern to the planet (and your customers too).
To start to address this, why not consider some more sustainable options for your customers.
Sustainable packaging options:
Viable home-compostable options for ready meals already exist! Compostable means something that can break down naturally in under 12 weeks to create nutrient-rich compost that helps plants thrive.
Compostable products are designed to compost WITH food waste, unlike recycling, where food waste contaminates the recycling process. By switching to certified home compostable packaging, your customers can dispose of their packaging in their home compost or the green bin and in councils where compostable packaging is accepted in FOGO (food organics and garden organics).
Even when the packaging ends up in landfills, it has contributed to fewer greenhouse gases and used less non-renewable energy to produce.
Businesses with around 30 – 100 orders per week could consider this method. You could require a deposit from your customers for the containers. Many have discovered that deposits are not necessary as customers will develop the habit of leaving their containers out on the delivery day.
A word on recyclable and biodegradable
Everyone likes the word ‘recyclable’, but in reality, conventional food packaging can rarely be recycled: the combination of cardboard, plastic and food creates massive recycling challenges, and most of it ends up being incinerated or in landfills. The other issue is that this packaging is also often made with nonrenewable resources like oil (plastic). If you are using foil containers, consider adding a label that encourages your customers to wash the container and recycle it. Foil can be reused an infinite number of times if it is clean.
Biodegradable means something breaks down naturally… but when and how? If the packaging says it is biodegradable, it can be manufactured with an additive that makes it ‘break down’ faster. In the case of biodegradable plastics, the container breaks down into smaller plastic particles, which is even worse for environmental systems and those that rely on them (including us!).
Looking for a more sustainable model? Cookaborough can help.
Cookaborough encourages food businesses to take a more sustainable approach to run their business beginning with operating under a clever batch model. This approach involves using a weekly cycle completely eliminating food waste.
Want to learn more about how Cookaborough could work for your business? Get in touch with our team below.