At Blue Apron, we’re focused on bringing incredible food to our community of home cooks. We think a lot about what that means. We believe that while food safety and quality are paramount, better food should also be better for the planet.
We hold our ingredients to a high standard—whether that means ensuring that animals raised for meat and poultry are treated humanely, that seafood is farmed and caught responsibly, or that the packaging our food travels in is as efficient as possible. Delivering high-quality, responsibly-sourced ingredients while minimizing environmental impact has always been a priority at Blue Apron, and now we’re taking that commitment one step further by being the first major meal kit company in the United States to announce time-bound targets around packaging goals.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
We’ve set a goal of 100% of the packaging for our meal kit boxes being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by the end of 2025. We also strive to use 75% post-consumer recycled content, by weight, in our meal kits boxes by the end of 2025. In setting these goals, our aim is to help contribute to an increasingly circular economy—designing packaging that can easily be recycled and repurposed into new products at the end of its usable life. We’re holding ourselves accountable for continuous improvement.
HOW WE’LL GET THERE
Our packaging sustainability strategy
The core goal of our packaging sustainability strategy is to avoid packaging whenever possible. When packaging is necessary, we strive to reduce the amount and weight of materials used. We’re also committed to improving the sustainability of those materials by increasing recyclability and post-consumer recycled content, and we prioritize sourcing fibers certified by major forest certification bodies.
Our packaging sustainability strategy is executed by a dedicated team and cross functional partners. Together, they’re committed to testing, innovating and otherwise working to meet our packaging sustainability goals. In our packaging engineering lab, we work closely with our Food Safety and Quality Assurance and Operations teams to extensively test new materials on the market. We’re always in search of products that protect ingredients while minimizing environmental impact.
In our lab, we’re looking for ways to reduce our packaging altogether. We designed a proprietary packaging specification system to help us “right-size” each box based on a customer’s order. Using the smallest possible box for each order eliminates unnecessary material and improves freight efficiency by increasing the number of boxes that can fit on a truck. Our system assesses each Blue Apron shipment to determine the smallest amount of packaging and material needed based on various attributes of a customer’s order. Cutting out unnecessary packaging is not only better for the planet—it also saves dollars that are reinvested in better packaging and ingredients.
We recognize that the sustainability of our packaging is also impacted by the systems on which it is dependent. This is why as part of our strategy we’re engaging in collective industry efforts to improve recycling education, and to enhance the use of recycling infrastructure. We took a big step in this direction when we joined How2Recycle® in 2016, and we’re continuing to work toward adding How2Recycle® labeling to all of our brand designed packaging. We’re also proud and active members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a leading voice in sustainable packaging.
Where we are today
We’ve already made great strides in packaging sustainability. After adjusting for accessibility of recycling infrastructure in the United States, we estimate that 85% of the packaging in our meal kit boxes is recyclable and is also made of more than 40% post-consumer recycled content.* 100% of our recipe cards are made from materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
We’re proud to be the first major meal kit company in the United States to use only drain safe frozen gel packs in all of our boxes, which we introduced in 2019. These gel packs were awarded a DOW Packaging Innovation Award in partnership with Nordic Ice, and replaced a former polymer gel pack. Introducing our new gel packs not only recycles considerable water —and for 2020 we estimate that it was the equivalent of about 6.3 Million gallons per year, the equivalent of 9.5 Olympic size swimming pools— it also makes it possible for our customers to more easily recycle the exterior plastic.
We have a network of packaging suppliers that share our commitment to sustainability. We’re proud to partner with Placon, who say they “purchase post-consumer recycled PET bottles and thermoforms from material recovery facilities to help keep over 1 billion PET bottles from going to the landfills each year” (visit Placon’s website for more information) and with whom we collaborate on new packaging research and development.
We’ve built processes into our packaging procurement strategies to help us meet these goals. We routinely evaluate packaging options against our sustainability targets. For example, we use a packaging sustainability software to analyze the carbon, water and energy footprint of our packaging, to benchmark our packaging portfolio and to track progress over time.
Our commitment to transparency
Responsibility for our packaging sustainability targets and strategy is shared across our organization by our Head of Sustainability and Social Impact, our Senior Director of Indirect Procurement & Supply Chain Analytics, and a dedicated packaging procurement & engineering team. Progress is tracked quarterly, and audited internally each year, and we look forward to sharing regular updates with you.
At Blue Apron, we want our customers to feel good about what’s in their box — including the ingredients and the packaging that keeps those ingredients safe. We want to make it easy for our home cooks to learn more about our various packaging and its recyclability. For more information, visit our recycling page.
Our commitment to packaging sustainability is part of our focus on preventing, recovering, recycling and otherwise diverting waste across our value chain as part of our Aprons For All initiative. We’re dedicated to managing the environmental and social impacts of our business to support an ethical, resilient food system.
Read more about Aprons For All and our commitment to social impact on our blog.
*Recyclability and post-consumer recycled content percentages are by weight, based on an internal 2020 audit.
All statements in this post are as of July 8, 2021.
This post includes statements concerning Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. and its future expectations, plans and prospects that constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. For this purpose, any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “forecasts,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” or “continue,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. Blue Apron has based these forward-looking statements largely on its current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that it believes may affect its business, financial condition and results of operations. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this post and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions including, without limitation, the company’s ability to procure sufficient amounts of recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging materials and/or packaging materials made of post-consumer recycled content by weight; any material and adverse impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise on the company’s operations or the operations of the company’s current or future packaging suppliers including as a result of insufficient labor, whether as a result of heightened absenteeism or challenges in recruiting and retention or otherwise; its expectations regarding, and the stability of, the company and its packaging suppliers’ supply chain, including potential shortages or interruptions in the supply or delivery of packaging materials; the company’s ability to comply with modified or new laws and regulations applying to its business; and other risks more fully described in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 filed with the SEC on February 23, 2021 and the company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2021 filed with the SEC on May 6, 2021, and in other filings that the company may make with the SEC in the future. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this post as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.