As well as making delicious plant-based chocolates and ice cream with organically farmed ingredients, we also spend much time and effort ensuring all aspects of how we function as a business are also as benign as possible. One of these aspects is packaging. This is a complicated area with motivations that at times point us in different directions: we want to design packaging that ensures you receive everything in optimal condition; we want to do this in a simple, environmentally benign way; and we want to present everything to you very beautifully.
We have been doing a lot in recent years to ensure we achieve a balance between these three priorities. Here is an update on what we have been up to.
A simple, minimal way of getting chocolates to you would be to pop them in a brown paper bag. In fact, this is the thinking that led to us launching our 8-truffle pack in the simplest, minimalist box – a cardboard cube – 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, as elegant as it was, it did not protect the truffles sufficiently and led to many disappointments such as mouldy and stale chocolates, so we moved on. The challenge with looking after delicious, delicate, melt-in- your-mouth truffles is that they need to be sealed in an airtight environment. This prevents moisture getting in and causing mould to form. It prevents them drying out and becoming stale and also protects them from external odours tainting the flavour. If we do not seal them, you will receive them in a compromised form.
The three main materials that provide a sufficient barrier to maintain freshness are glass, metal and plastic. For a range of reasons glass and metal are not really suitable for chocolate truffles. This leaves plastic. So, following much research and debate, we have focused on designing and redesigning packs that use a minimal amount of recyclable plastic to protect the truffles.
You will start to notice that we are removing all gold and black trays (which we discovered aren’t as widely recyclable as we had all been led to believe) from our boxes and are swapping them to clear. There is no question that the gold trays look more ‘beautiful’ but we took the decision to bend on the beauty bit of the three objectives. We have also made a raft of other changes to ensure that as many elements of our chocolate packaging as feasible are now widely recyclable and that we’re using as little packaging as possible. Some of these changes have happened in recent months so will take a while longer to be apparent in the shops. Please bear with us whilst these changes take place. You can see below for a list of elements which make up our chocolate boxes.
The only element where there is no suitable recyclable or compostable material is the film that we use to seal our trays. Unfortunately, nothing currently exists that has the necessary shelf life that we need. The world waits. We will endeavour to be amongst the first to start using it when it arrives.
In many ways, ice cream cartons are very similar to throw-away coffee cups which have made headlines in recent months. There has been a fair amount of confusion as to their recyclability. It stems from the fact that they are made from a mix of card and plastic, the plastic being the liner to prevent leaks and soggy bottoms. Ice cream tubs are slightly different in that they need a plastic coating on both the inside and the outside to prevent frost and moisture from penetrating the tub from the outside.
What has happened recently is that the official guidelines on the recyclability of materials have changed, alongside the continuous improvements in understanding and the technological capability of local council recycling centres. The upshot of this is that many tubs, including ours, which used to be considered recyclable via local council kerbside collections are now not. This means that some ice cream tubs used by other ice cream producers might currently be incorrectly labelled. As packaging can’t be changed overnight, a grace period of around 18-24 months is given by OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label scheme) for companies to change their artwork and release new packaging. We continue our endeavours to find the most appropriate, sustainable packaging and along the way, we’re looking to make any positive changes we can, like using wooden spoons instead of plastic ones for our 110ml mini pots and using alternative tamper seals.
Some local independent health food and wholefood stores may offer a Terracycle collection point. The Terracycle service can recycle ice cream tubs via their Laminated Paper Packaging – Zero Waste Box™. It may be that this type of recycling becomes more mainstream and more widely available to everyone, however in the meantime, we continue our endeavours to find the most appropriate, sustainable packaging and along the way, we’re looking to make any positive changes we can, like using wooden spoons instead of plastic ones for our 110ml mini pots and using alternative tamper seals.
This is all, of course, work in progress. New materials will arrive. The world will move on in ways we can’t imagine. We’re keeping a close eye on innovation in food packaging in the hope that very soon we’ll find entirely sustainable films, trays, wraps and tubs that have the properties our products need to stay in tip top condition.
We’ve recently become a member of the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme (OPRL), so as we update and print more packaging, you’ll start to find recycling information on the back of all our chocolate boxes. We are aiming to make as much of our packaging as possible fall into the ‘widely recyclable’ bracket.
As we continue our journey, new ideas will emerge from us; from elsewhere; from you. We very much welcome creative suggestions from you, our customers. So please let us know if you have thoughts on any next steps. We can’t promise we will be able to do them but we will seriously consider any ideas you may have. In the meantime, we are trying to use the minimum amount of widely recyclable plastic possible. We hope that you understand and appreciate our approach.
Below is a list of the various elements of packaging for each of our products, with the % of overall packaging weight shown for each
Chilled Two Packs:
Card inner (65%) – widely recyclable
Flow-wrap film (35%) – not currently recyclable
Chilled Six Truffle Treat Packs:
Sleeve (44%) – reduced volume of cardboard from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (47%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable
Film (9%) – not currently recyclable
(Overall reduction in packaging from previous six-pack format: 22%)
Chilled Twelve Truffle Gift Boxes:
Box (74%) – from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (23%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable
Film (3%) – not currently recyclable
Box, layer pad, Boojagram, menu card (92%) – paper & card from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (7%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable
Film (1%) – not currently recyclable
104g Four Corners Collection Hazelnut, Around Midnight Espresso & Almond Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles
Box, layer pad & Boojagram (67%) – from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (21%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable (already in Almond Salted Caramel boxes, will be appearing in Hazelnut & Around Midnight Espresso boxes in shops very soon)
Gold printed foil bag (12%) – not currently recyclable
Fine de Champagne 138g,
Box, layer pad & Boojagram (87%) – from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (11.5%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable from early 2019
Film (1.5%) – not currently recyclable
Special Edition Gift Collection boxes, 138g
We’ll need your help to make the Special Edition Collection soft touch boxes recyclable – when you’ve finished with the box (if you choose not to keep it), you’ll need to rip the lid off to ensure that water can get into the cardboard during the recycling process
Box, layer pad & Boojagram (94%)
Tray (5%) – clear plastic PET tray which is widely recyclable from early 2019 (We still have a few months of stock of the gold trays and, as a small business that also doesn’t like waste, we aren’t in a position to simply throw away the trays, so we’ll use them up and then switch over as soon as possible)
Film (1 %) – not currently recyclable
The Gourmet Selection, 230g
Box, layer pad, menu & Boojagram (82%) – from sustainable sources and widely recyclable
Tray (15.5%) – gold plastic tray which is recyclable in some areas – check with your local council. We will change this to a clear tray which is widely recyclable as soon as we can.)
Film (2.5%) – not currently recyclable
Hand painted wooden keepsake Artist’s Collection Boxes and hand painted papier-mâché keepsake Easter Eggs
Made to treasure, we very much hope that you will choose to keep your hand painted papier-mâché Easter egg and wooden Artist’s Collection boxes and reuse them to store precious things.
The Boojagram is fully recyclable, as are the cardboard trays and Petit Four cases in the wooden boxes. The gold printed foil bag which contains the truffles inside the Easter Eggs is not currently recyclable.