Sustainability is no longer a trend. It’s a necessity.
Before the project started we assessed all the comments left on our social media over the past 4 years and looked at other businesses' clients' reviews. We found out the most common inconveniences, uncertainties, and desires regarding food packaging. It also became clear that customers are fast learners and they are more and more invested in sustainability. However, due to lack of education in the market, there are lots of myths and mistrust:
- If it looks like paper, it must be environmentally friendly and recyclable.
- Recycling is just an illusion: all packaging is waste, so it’s not worth the effort.
- Sustainability is too expensive and can only be achieved by the biggest players.
We faced some difficulties ourselves. We were convinced that our old packaging was recyclable because it was made from cardboard and had a recycling certificate. Unfortunately, we learned that it’s almost impossible to recycle packaging with plastic film. Food containers could only be recycled if they were collected in extremely large quantities (up to 100 tons). Experts explained that sometimes sustainability data is presented in brighter light.
We have learned from our mistakes and broadened our knowledge by working with field specialists, manufacturers, and waste sorting centers. We acknowledge that being responsible means understanding that packaging is materials, production, logistics, and waste. However, when we make the right choices, waste can be converted into materials. After evaluating all this, we found a solution that allowed us to deliver the new packaging and do it in a completely transparent way.
Preparation is the key
For all processes to run smoothly and the results to meet expectations, it is necessary to choose reliable partners. We did and a year and a half later we have everything we wanted: responsibility from suppliers, manufacturers, partners, and total transparency every step of the way.
More than a year ago we started searching for new material and found out that cardboard without plastic film is the most suitable for us. We were looking for a material that would bring sustainability and functionality. With Smurfit Kappa guidance we discovered fitting recycled material. This is a unique case, as until now recycled materials rarely could have been used for food containers. The new material has a layer of activated carbon that adsorbs contaminants and gives us maximum hygiene.
While proud of our recycled cardboard packaging, we are also glad to be working only with responsible production partners. Our suppliers try to minimize the impact on deforestation and biodiversity loss.
We made sure that cardboard production was relatively close to the packaging manufacturer in Lithuania. We are taking Fresh Post franchise growth into account. With new salad bars opening in other countries, we will always try to optimize our logistics. This way we will minimize the negative effect of transportation. We are also trying to use as minimum as possible: packaging fully recycled and made without unnecessary details, materials, or coloring.
All parts of the new packaging can be properly treated. Not only can the clean part be recycled, but we will soon be able to compost the part of the packaging that came into contact with food. By the end of 2023 collection points for compostable waste should be installed in all major European cities.
We partnered up with the waste recycling company Ecoservice. They have a broad knowledge and a particular interest in extracting further value from collected waste. Ecoservice experts helped us to develop a system for the correct and convenient management of all waste generated in salad bars. They also helped us to assess all Fresh Post packaging, flatware, and wipes and anticipate further changes.
A new solution is not enough. Education must come along.
There are lots of great packaging in the world. Unfortunately, too often consumers don't know how to sort them correctly. We assessed all the comments left on our social media over the past 4 years and looked at other businesses' clients' reviews. In this way, we found out the most common inconveniences, uncertainties, and desires regarding food packaging. This created an opportunity to educate our clients by showing them the right way to recycle and introducing them to the whole system.
We need customers to rely on us. To achieve that, we provided all the information about new packaging in a clear, user-friendly way. Customers can easily monitor every stage of the packaging's life - from origin to final sorting point.
When visiting Fresh Post salad bars clients will be greeted by interactive screens. By clicking on any stage of the packaging's life, visitors will be able to get more relevant information: the technical parameters of the material, responsible parties, and get acquainted with sorting steps. All the information is presented in a way that provides knowledge on how to handle other similar types of packaging and waste. All of it is also available on Fresh Post website: www.freshpost.lt/packaging
The biggest food brands and restaurants are preparing to use recycled, recyclable and/ or compostable packaging by 2025 or later. When an international company wants to make any change, it faces many technicalities to ensure safety and success. That’s why even simple processes are often carried out in several stages.
As a relatively small company, we can apply changes immediately and everything at once. This provides an exceptional opportunity to bring bold decisions to customers even faster than market leaders and show smaller businesses that innovation does not depend on their scale.
Fresh post never presented new packaging as just a good deed. It is also a smart decision. We know that making our system publicly available will make it very easy for other brands and competitors to copy. We are not afraid. We encourage that! We believe that once the public will realize the benefits, innovation will accelerate. That is why we made sure this won't be a marketing trick, but an environmentally friendly solution that benefits the business and customers. Therefore, we present the packaging and all its life cycle details. We also present benefits to businesses, consumers, and recycling companies. In our case:
- Optimization has led to a reduction in costs of € 13660.
- New materials saved us € 15580.
- The new material is expected to reduce taxes by € 2450 next year.
We also achieved:
- 20 more tons of material could be recycled.
- 98 tons of fiber is saved.
- Electricity consumption is reduced by 13000 kWh.
- Water consumption is reduced by 1500000 liters.
It is easy to correct one part and believe that the work is complete. It takes time to realize that it is often necessary to adjust the entire system. We changed materials, production, logistics, and waste sorting. We based our bold decisions on rationality and logic.