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“We must share successes when it comes to waste and sustainability”

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Friday, 10 January 2020. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

Founder of Gousto speaks about the importance of saving the environment through his successful plastic-free packaging

“We must share successes when it comes to waste and sustainability”

Recipe box delivery service, Gousto, has fulfilled its pledge to combat plastic waste with its new recyclable and plastic-free boxes set to roll out this year – and Mr Boldt has now spoken about how waste is an “industry wide issue”

“I think we should all be more proactive with sharing our successes within the industry when it comes to waste and sustainability,” Timo Boldt, CEO and founder of Gousto, tells me. Gousto is UK’s leading meal delivery service, and prides in delivering quality ingredients in the form of easy and convenient meal kits right to their customer’s footsteps. “This is an industry wide issue, so we are keen to share our learnings and insights with the wider industry so we can tackle the issues together.”

Founded in 2012, by Timo and his partner James Carter, the pair have revolutionised the way thousands of Britons cook their dinners, supplying over 2.5 million meal kits to homes across the nation every month, complete with ready-measured, fresh ingredients and easy to follow recipes. Gousto, has solved its pledge to reduce plastic by 50% and saved over 100 tonnes of plastic in 2019. Now, Gousto aims to revolutionise the food business industry even more, pledging to remove 74.5 tonnes of plastic from its boxes with its new state-of-the-art packaging.

Set to roll out this year, Gousto have created 100% recyclable and plastic-free packaging made out of cardboard, the first insulator of its kind in the UK. The new packaging will replace wool insulator liners wrapped inside plastic packaging, saving the equivalent of 177 million plastic straws.

“The new packaging solution is made of cardboard - completely plastic free and fully recyclable,” Mr Boldt tells me. “Paper has good insulation properties in itself. Where this new packaging solution is clever is that it wraps many layers of paper to trap the air in between. By trapping air, we create lots of pockets of insulation that stop the cold from escaping. We’ve spent a year testing it in all weather conditions - the heat waves last year were a great opportunity for us to run tests - and we recently invested in a temperature chamber to allow us to replicate extreme weather conditions.

“The new temperature controlled-packaging will replace the existing packaging used to keep produce chilled. We currently use wool insulator liners - which are compostable and biodegradable - to keep food cold in transit and prevent food waste. The wool cool currently comes wrapped inside plastic packaging. It is this plastic that will be replaced by the new insulator.”

Gousto’s sustainability team have spent 18-months testing out their new fully recyclable temperature-controlled packaging, experimenting on an array of materials such as glass, but found paper packaging was the winner when it came to keeping ingredients fresh, safe and chilled for their happy customers.

The team have sent deliveries to over 4,000 customers in a series of trial tests. The packages were successfully able to withstand adverse weather conditions – including UK’s perpetual heatwave – and also stood the test of time in a temperature chamber, which recreated extreme weather conditions.

“First we created a dedicated sustainability team to make it happen,” Mr Boldt said. “The team put in over 3,200 hours across 18-months, trialling the new-high performing temperature-controlled packaging, with over 4,000 customers. We tested it in all weather conditions and we recently invested in a temperature chamber to allow us to replicate extreme weather conditions. We worked with UK based suppliers, investing in the best machinery to help us to find the solution to our pledge.”

“It’s super important to recycle all materials which can be recycled. Our new packaging innovation can be recycled by the regular paper/cardboard recycling stream, which means customers can help close the loop on packaging production - the recycled material could even come back as part of our new packaging or as Gousto boxes!” he added.

With almost half of food gone to waste in the UK, Gousto believes they have found the solution to reducing food waste with their brand concept – and now hope to tackle the issue with recyclable packaging, pledging to make all of their boxes reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2022.

“We know that 40% of food is wasted in the UK, which is a shocking figure, especially as food waste in particular has such a significant impact on the environment,’ Mr Boldt said. “This is the very reason that Gousto has focused on minimising food waste from the outset. We operate at 0% food waste at household level and almost the same within the supply chain.

“Excess packaging is another problem for the environment. However, some packaging is necessary to prevent food going off - and therefore avoid more food waste. Gousto has been harnessing technology to ensure we do not produce excess packaging and with the new packaging insulator, we have found a way to make packaging more sustainable and less harmful to the environment.”

Gousto prides in developing a sustainable approach to food waste, armed with a team of passionate experts and suppliers, the company has revolutionised the modern-day approach to everyday cooking.

Mr Boldt believes companies in the food business industry must come together to share successes and ideas in order to combat the ongoing issue with food waste and recycling packaging.

“Sustainability is a core part of our mission to become the UK’s most-loved way to eat dinner,” Mr Bolt said. “Making this part of the business’s values is a great way to start. Working with a team of passionate people and partnering with suppliers who are experts in this field is just as crucial.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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