Founder Diary - # 2

Founder Diary - # 2

Guys, welcome back! Lots of excitement over the last couple of weeks to bring you up to speed on.

First off, the vac packer has been fixed. The technician visited and did his thing and we are now back up and running. No more sleepless nights for me (and probably no more restful mornings for my neighbors - sorry guys!). Separately - one for all you deep thinkers out there - have you ever wondered what happens if you put a vac packer inside a vac packer? Sadly it’s not as exciting as I’d hoped haha.

So, we sent some test orders out to you lovely folks (you know who you are!) - thanks for your feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m currently trialing smaller cardboard boxes using less insulated packaging (and hopefully less ice packs).

Speaking of ice packs, I’ve had some major challenges with leaky homemade ice packs, that it would be cool to bring you up to speed on.

Have you ever wondered how environmentally friendly they actually are?

Turns out there are very few on the market that are plastic-free… which is pretty crazy if you think about it. 

Most options are made from #4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene), which is the same material used to make shopping bags, dry cleaning bags and bottles and lids. Hard plastics made out of the material (i.e. bottles/lids) can be recycled, while thinner plastic film items can’t (i.e. bags) and end up in landfill.

Meaning… even if you put your used plastic-based ice packs in the recycling bin, they are probably too thin to be recycled and will end up in landfill. It might take 1000 years for that to break down. 

Further, the liquid inside your ice pack is often marketed as ‘drain safe’, and you are encouraged to just pour it down your drain. These ice packs contain a thickener and another chemical that lowers the freezing point (so that they stay colder for longer). 

I think, really, in an ideal world we wouldn’t be pouring chemicals down the drain - biodegradable or not - but I get that ‘drain safe’ ice packs are probably the ‘less bad’ option.

Tere is a final category of ice packs which are made from kraft paper and contain plant-based ingredients. When I found these, as you can imagine, I was overjoyed, because they say that the pouch is recyclable as paper in some countries. 

After digging deeper I suspect they can't yet be fully recycled in the UK yet, but I can't find a definitive answer. But they must be a better option than plastic if they end up in the landfill, as the thick kraft paper material might still break down in a matter of months.

The kraft ice packs work well but they are really expensive (6 or 7x the cost of a plastic ice pack) so it’s not particularly sustainable. Hopefully as their competitors catch up, the cost will come down. 

So, for now, I’m using these kraft paper ice packs in your sauce boxes while I finish off the testing for my homemade ice packs, which contain just salt, water and an outer layer made from mostly cornstarch (breaks down in about 10 weeks). 

The main issue is using a material thick enough that will not tear when the water freezes and expands. Because it’s not ideal to receive your sauces in a puddle of ice water!

Anyways, I will keep you updated on how that’s coming along and thanks for reading - if you’ve got down this far. Have a great one!

Ben x

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