Sun Basket is the First Meal Kit with 100% Recyclable + Compostable Packaging; We Hope We’re Not the Last
I am proud to announce that today the organic meal kit company that I started, Sun Basket, is rolling out our industry’s first 100% recyclable and compostable packaging in an effort to significantly reduce the waste our boxes produce, without compromising the freshness of our food. Thanks to the work of our team, led by our Head of User Experience, Tyler MacNiven, and Head of Strategic Initiatives, Michael Golub, we’re now providing our customers with an easier and greener way to recycle and compost their packaging.
This initial effort — which includes the first truly recyclable insulation liner made from post-consumer recycled PETs, the only gel packs with all-natural, fully compostable fill, and compostable ingredient bags — is expected to divert over five million pounds of waste from municipal landfills within the first twelve months.
Our new “green” packaging is an outgrowth of the lessons learned from our first-of-its-kind box return program, which we launched over a year ago. While our return program was successful in that we were able to re-use thousands of boxes of insulation and ice packs that our customers sent us, only 10% of our users took advantage of this free service. As a result, over 90% of our packaging was never returned and instead ended up in landfill. Given this low re-use rate, we challenged ourselves to come up with a simple solution that allowed customers to easily recycle and compost 100% of the packaging at home.
Before telling you more, a bit of backstory is in order. When I started Sun Basket, we focused our mission on making healthy cooking easy and delicious. I had experienced first hand the transformative power of eating healthy after I lost 50 pounds by learning to cook nutritious, balanced meals. Our “clean eating” mission resonated with customers, allowing us to grow quickly into the number one organic meal kit provider in the nation. In the past year we’ve gone from 10 to over 400 employees and we’re on track to increase our revenues by 10X in 2016 with strong margins and high customer retention.
However, from day one, I knew this company had to be about more than good food and good business. The health of the planet was interwoven into everything we did, so we realized that we had to address the eight hundred pound gorilla in the meal delivery space — and our customers’ number one complaint — too much packaging that wasn’t easy to recycle or compost.
And so we are.
While there isn’t specific data about how much waste the meal kit industry generates, consumers see the evidence piling up in their trash bins and it leaves a bad aftertaste to what is otherwise a delicious and easy solution to meal time. With our new green solution, which is reducing our need for new packaging manufactured from raw materials, lowering energy use, and in turn decreasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, we want Sun Basket’s packaging to bring as much ease to our customers’ lives as our recipes and fresh ingredients do.
And this is only the beginning. Starting today, we’re making a pledge to lead the meal delivery industry toward a “zero waste” future. We plan to reduce waste even further in the coming months and years to come, and hope to inspire the rest of the industry — including packaging manufacturers and logistics providers — to make substantial changes which will improve the sustainability of the entire sector.
I couldn’t be more excited about our new packaging, and feel fortunate to work with such a passionate team led by our Chef Justine Kelly, the former Head Chef at The Slanted Door, and COO Don Barnett, the co-founder of organicgirl, the second largest provider of organic packaged produce in the United States.
It’s great to see when our team’s hard work is acknowledged by our customers and investors. To that end, today we also announced closing $15 million in new Series B funding to create the first national organic home delivery service. With over 60% of Americans stating they prefer organic*, but organic products comprising only 7% of grocery sales, we are aiming to unlock pent-up demand by building a more efficient supply chain that addresses three of the industry’s biggest issues: accessibility, quality, and cost. For example, when we open our third distribution center later this year, we’ll serve 98% of the US, more than the largest supermarket chain in the nation.
Sun Basket’s value goes beyond delivering meals in a (recyclable and compostable) box. At our core, our direct-to-consumer model is creating a radically more efficient, more sustainable organic food distribution platform, which over time will disintermediate the traditional $600 billion dollar grocery market. By creating a “farmers market in the sky,” we are supporting small, organic farmers and their stewardship of the land; decreasing food waste by selling only what our customers consume; and expanding mainstream access to food that’s grown organically, sustainably, and seasonally. It is our responsibility to build a commitment to health and sustainability into the fabric of our company and we hope our competitors in the space will join us in doing the same.
Snapshot: Sun Basket’s New 100% Recyclable and Compostable Packaging
- Fully recyclable insulation made from recycled water bottles: Made from the most easily recycled form of plastic, Sun Basket’s new insulation liner is made of a PET fiber. Even the stickers used to roll up the liners for easy recycling are approved to be 100% recyclable.
- Eco-friendly gel ice packs made from non-toxic, food grade materials: All ice packs are filled with 98% water and 2% non-GMO cotton (vs. the industry standard which contains petroleum), which can be composted or thrown in the garbage to evaporate.
- Backyard compostable ingredients bags can be composted at home, or placed in a curbside compost bin. The bags are also suitable for anaerobic breakdown, meaning they will decompose in a landfill if they end up there.
- Greenware containers: The smaller clear containers in your Sun Basket will continue to be made from Greenware, a fully compostable material.
*Statista.com, US Organic Food Market Growth, Stephen Daniells