Hellmann’s and Just Eat turn to seaweed to replace plastic packaging

By Marcus Lawrence
The most striking element of the plastics crisis is the sheer enormity of it. Despite such products only having been made comme...

The most striking element of the plastics crisis is the sheer enormity of it. Despite such products only having been made commercially viable a little under 70 years ago, plastics have become so commonplace in every facet of daily life that it’s difficult to fully comprehend their frequency. Case in point: how regularly, when considering the plastics present in the restaurant industry, have you considered the environmental impacts of ubiquitous ketchup and mayonnaise packets?

Master sauciers Hellmann’s and takeaway-consolidating delivery platform Just Eat are well aware of this lesser considered element of their supply chains, and have thus partnered to deliver a solution from an even lesser considered source. 

65 of Just Eat’s partnered restaurants in London, UK, are currently trialling sauces packaged in seaweed. The solution, developed by sustainable packaging startup Notpla, biodegrades naturally within six weeks and is enjoying very positive feedback from customers.

According to a press release from Unilever, parent company of Hellmann’s, 92% of customers asked said they would be keen to see more seaweed-based sauce packets and, perhaps most importantly for the long-term prospects of the solution, 91% said they were in fact easier to use than regular packets.

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“At Hellmann’s we’re committed to creating a more sustainable future for food – by enhancing taste and reducing waste. From reducing plastic in our packaging to encouraging love for leftovers with our ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ initiative, we continue to test and explore new ways to help people enjoy delicious meals as sustainably as possible,” said Hazel Detsiny, VP of Marketing Foods and Tea and Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions for Unilever UK and Ireland, in the press release.

“This trial is a great example of collaboration driving game-changing innovation. In partnership with Just Eat and Notpla, we’re creating a new and exciting experience for Just Eat customers who can enjoy the same great tasting Hellmann’s – but with zero plastic waste. Squeezing sauce out of a seaweed sachet will be a first for many, but it’s one small change with potential for big impact.”

Andrew Kenny, Managing Director of Just Eat UK, added: “As market leader, we take our responsibility to affect positive change in the food delivery sector seriously. One of our key areas of focus is helping our 35,700 restaurant partners across the UK reduce plastic pollution. We are delighted to partner with Hellmann’s, a business which shares our commitment to making mealtimes more environmentally-friendly, as we embark upon the next step in bringing these sustainable sachets into the mainstream.

“Our first two trials of the seaweed-based sauce sachets with Notpla received excellent feedback and we were thrilled to be recognised with a highly commended at the Responsible Business Awards for this. It’s great to see more takeaways get on board to help us in our fight against plastic waste.”

This is not Just Eat’s first foray into seaweed-based packaging solutions. See the above video for a quick explainer for the trial of Ooho!’s own solution from October 2018.

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