Here a coffee to go, there a plastic-packed salad for on the go: Loud Federal Environment Agency In 2018, around 19 million tons of packaging waste were generated in Germany. That is around 230 kilograms per person per year. Ascending trend.
Our mission is to provide you with our ice-cold smoothies, bowls and smoothie bowls at home in the highest quality. However, we want to keep the impact on our environment as low as possible. A real challenge. Believe us: During the development of our products, the packaging has given us one or two sleepless nights. We take you on our way to a packaging solution for our products and explain how and why we decided on our packaging.
What is environmentally friendly packaging?
The sad truth first: There is no such thing as sustainable packaging. Nevertheless, we can make packaging decisions in such a way that they are best justified with our values.
Eco-design and material matrix: These are our steps on the way to optimal packaging
We have developed a packaging process that shows us the direction for optimal packaging and the choice of materials - and lets us sleep more peacefully again.
Each packaging is individual. That is why every packaging at Wholey is considered individually.
The packaging decision process consists of several repetitive steps and follows the principles of eco-design. The choice of material in the entire design process during packaging development is on the same level as the feasibility and feasibility, function, appearance and shape of the packaging.
- Reuse: In the first step, we try to design the packaging according to reusable principles so that it can be reused.
- Upcycling: If a reusable solution for the product cannot be implemented, for example due to logistics costs or food safety, we try to design packaging according to the upcycling principle. The packaging can be reused as a new product.
- Recycle: The last alternative for us is to design our packaging according to the principle of design to recycling. In other words: To facilitate the recovery of the packaging materials for further use. We follow the relevant guidelines and work with experts to find the best possible materials.
In order to always find the optimal solution according to our values, we regularly scrutinize the decisions. We exchange ideas with partners and challengers, listen, reflect on our findings and adapt the packaging accordingly - and continuously. Our purpose is always the focus: To inspire & educate people about a healthy plant-based diet, so that self-care and awareness become everyone’s new breakfast routine.
But how can we choose the right material for ourselves when there are always trade offs and new knowledge about materials?
We have developed a material matrix based on our purpose, based on which we evaluate and prioritize the materials and decisions that come into question. The resulting sequence is: glass, cardboard, plant-based plastic, recycled plastic, monoplastic, composite materials. Once we have found a suitable solution in one of the design steps mentioned above, the matrix is used again to compare the individual producers and to decide on the optimal manufacturer of our material for the packaging.
Why do we use which packaging?
So much for theory. In the following, we want to transparently explain the steps why we decided on which material and packaging solution for our smoothie, smoothie bowl and shot packaging.
Our packaging solution: cardboard. Why?
Trap: As a (still) small company, we were not able to logistically implement all the reusable variants that came into question for our smoothie bowls, because as a food and frozen product it is not easy to design packaging that can be reused as packaging.
Upcycling: We have not succeeded in designing bowl packaging that fulfills a new purpose after use. The problem was always the contact of the packaging with food and the fact that it was a frozen product.
recycling: Again we were at the point of designing a packaging based on ours for optimal recycling. When choosing materials, we therefore followed the design guidelines for recycling. We have already succeeded in what still needs to be optimized in the packaging of our smoothies with our bowls: Since the requirements for the ingredients are less complex (albeit at least as varied), we were able to win a bottler in 2019 who will put our bowls in Fills cardboard boxes with a plastic content below 5 percent. Quite a stroke of luck. Our bowl packaging must also meet legal requirements with regard to water barrier and food safety. Together with our partner, we have developed a cardboard box that meets the legal requirements and our Wholey requirements: A composite cardboard whose fiber content in the inner coating is less than five percent. This makes it possible to dispose of it in the paper waste and transfer it to the paper recycling process.
With the packaging solution, we are taking the first step in the right direction - although we are still looking for a better solution here. Until then, we ensure that the residual plastic contained is obtained from biodegradable and renewable raw materials and have decided on a starch coating.
And yet we are aware that packaging development is never finite. We are currently working intensively on optimization and are working intensively on the printing inks of cardboard packaging.
Our packaging solution: recycling plastic. Why?
Trap: In contrast to smoothie and bowl packaging, our shot packaging is most suitable for cleaning it and then filling it with new shots. Unfortunately only in theory. Since the production and manufacture of the ingredients is in Portugal, the trap approach was unfortunately unattainable due to logistical effort.
Upcycling: Although you can reuse our shot packaging in numerous variants in a different form, we would - and do not want to - call this packaging a classic upcycling product.
recycling: So we gave a lot of thought to the packaging material. Our shots are made using the HPP process to preserve vitamins and ingredients. In doing so, they are exposed to high pressure. Our first choice of material, glass, was ruled out because it would simply break. We were also unable to use cardboard packaging for the liquid product and the associated requirements: all of the solution variants were composite products that could perhaps be technically separated from one another in theory, but in practice are not properly recycled by any plant in Germany. Our biggest exclusion criterion was the aluminum barrier, which must always be included in Tetra Pak packaging.
So we were looking again for a variant made from plant-based plastic. Our shots have a filling quantity of 125 ml. We have not found any plant-based plastic packaging of this size that we can finance. And so the consideration went on to a solution made of recycled plastic. And that's exactly what it turned out to be. The packaging currently consists of 30 percent rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). Why only 30 percent? At the moment we simply still have insufficient purchase quantities. But: We have managed to get our producer to switch completely to 100 percent rPET for all of its customers. As soon as the old batch of shot packaging has been used up. According to our producer, that should be in the third quarter of 2021. You see: we stay tuned.
Our packaging solution: polyethylene. Why?
Trap: As with the smoothie bowls, we were unable to implement all the reusable variants that were possible for our bowls (see smoothie bowls).
Upcycling: All the packaging that came into question for upcycling the smoothie all had one decisive exclusion criterion: the function. The smoothies are mainly used in the catering sector. Together with our customers, we researched the requirements of the employees in the cafés and restaurants. The answer: fast packaging was needed. Our upcycling ideas couldn't score here. Nevertheless, we are still working on developing new ideas.
recycling: So we tried to design packaging according to recycling guidelines. One thing was clear: we want to prevent littering. That is why the switch came up with a bag / disposable solution that is quick to handle and easy to bring into the recycling system. But what material? Glass fell out because our smoothies are frozen products. After a long search for a manufacturer, we were unable to use cardboard due to the complexity of the ingredients. (To explain: There are no machines that can fill more than nine ingredients in the exact amount into a cardboard box). The next material in our matrix is plant-based plastic. And we tested that. More precisely, we tested a starch solution that could be composted in your own four walls. After the first lab test, everything looked very good. But the results of our long-term field test clouded the joy: Due to the -72 ° degree cold dry ice that we used for the practical test for shipping, the packaging bags tore. So on to the next material: Recycled plastic. However, this may only be used in certain cases in the food sector. Unfortunately, our smoothies don't pay extra.
So we only had the mono-film left. This consists of polyethylene (PE). Accordingly, you can dispose of our smoothies in the yellow bin so that they remain in the PE recycling cycle. Although it is not used to make food packaging again due to food safety reasons, the recycled PE is reused in many other products.
For now, this packaging solution is the best for our smoothies. We'll stay tuned to find a better solution.