This post was contributed by Gaurav Kale. Kale is the Director of Packaging with Blue Apron and leads the Blue Apron box design, development, strategy, testing and deployment of all packaging.
Times have changed since 2012, and so has the Blue Apron box. Over the past 10 years, our recipes, products, and packing have all evolved. Join us as we take a look back at how our design and packaging have developed since that first delivery.
Blue Apron Box Design Timeline
Our first Blue Apron box was packed and shipped from Brooklyn, NY. It included three recipes—seared hanger steak, barbecue Cornish game hen, and lemongrass shrimp with soba noodles. Check out our original logo printed on the top flap!
By 2014 the brand had grown to include a design team. As a result, the branding, packaging, and Blue Apron box design got an update.
In 2016, Blue Apron partnered with GreenBlue, a non-profit organization and parent company to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, to understand our packaging baseline and analyze the impact our packaging has on the environment.
Blue Apron joined the How2Recycle® program, a respected standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. Through this partnership, we started working on designing custom recyclable plastic packaging for automation based on the organization’s guidance.
In 2017 Blue Apron introduced new box packaging, reflective of its newest branding.
Blue Apron was honored to accept the 2019 Innovation in Design Optimization Award from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.
This is awarded to companies that “demonstrate the creative and significant work that our industry does to advance sustainability in packaging” according to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.
In 2019, Blue Apron became the first meal kit company to introduce drain-safe, fully recyclable gel packs (developed in partnership with Nordic Ice). Our packs were so impressive that we received the 2019 Packaging Innovation Award from Dow.
These award-winning gel packs replaced our old polymer ice packs. The polymer version worked well, but it wasn’t recyclable. We’re always looking for opportunities to improve the sustainability of our product, and we knew the ice packs had to be tweaked. The current version of the ice packs can be safely drained down the sink. Once emptied, the plastic exterior can be recycled via in-store drop off.
Blue Apron launched a dynamic packaging decision making system based on box contents and forecast weather. With the help of Blue Apron-designed technology, we optimize our packaging based on various attributes of a customer’s weekly meal kit order. This allows for the appropriate packaging configuration with the goal of ensuring safe delivery, while reducing the amount of packaging used.
Blue Apron became the first meal kit company to create custom packaging in accordance with How2Recycle program, a respected standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. Blue Apron partnered with How2Recycle to make it easier for customers to recycle the materials used in its packaging. The How2Recycle label includes clear and concise information on how to prepare materials for recycling, its classification, and guidance on accessibility, such as materials likely to be accepted curbside or through store drop-off.
Blue Apron announced a new sustainable packaging goal for its meal kit boxes of 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of 2025. To achieve its new packaging goals for its meal kits, Blue Apron plans to continue to build on its progress by:
- Using dynamic packaging: With the help of Blue Apron-designed technology, the company optimizes its packaging based on various attributes of a customer’s weekly meal kit order. This allows for the appropriate packaging configuration with the goal of ensuring safe delivery, while reducing the amount of packaging used.
- Identifying new packaging opportunities: Blue Apron’s packaging engineering lab conducts regular tests on new materials and innovative solutions to identify opportunities to reduce environmental footprint, including improved recyclability and increased post-consumer recycled content. This lab facilitates collaboration between members of the Packaging Engineering, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Operations, and Corporate Social Responsibility teams.
- Engaging the right partners: To ensure accountability and support progress toward its goals, Blue Apron continues to engage reputable, third-party partners. This includes How2Recycle®, a respected standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public, and Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a leading voice in packaging sustainability.
Gaurav Kale was elected as an Executive Committee member at Sustainable Packaging Coalition.
Blue Apron introduced paper-based liners in its boxes. These liners are 100% recyclable and are one step closer to meeting its sustainable packaging goal for the meal kit boxes of 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of 2025.
Blue Apron introduced new box packaging, including custom Blue Apron box design for its special occasion boxes. This new offering are limited-time, seasonal meal kits that will be available throughout the year to help bring special occasions to life. The options will include recipe formats that feature ‘best of the season’ proteins, produce and ingredients for a premium and memorable experience. The new category launched with a Summer Lobster Box and a Tailgating Box.
Enjoy this trip down memory lane? Relive some of your favorite recipes from past years with the Top 10 Blue Apron Recipes of All Time.