We always want to be honest with our customers and when we say are always working with the environment in mind we mean it. If it’s not good enough for our planet, it’s not good enough for us. The more you read up on sustainability the more you realise there’s no simple solution. There is undeniably a huge amount of work to be done and not just in the food industry, across all the industries and it’s both the consumer and brands that need to develop. For us, it’s about attitude. Nobody is perfect but we can all do our bit and work together towards a better future. Since starting the business in 2012 we have always made the choice to use more expensive, sustainable packaging options because we are focused on building an honest and sustainable brand, not squeezing our margins. In a meeting with an industry expert when I was just starting they said 90% of food on the market was packaged in black plastic and Potage wouldn’t work as a business if we didn’t use it because that’s what the consumer is used to and it’s very cheap. The majority of black plastic packaging contains carbon black pigments which means it’s not recyclable and ends up in landfill so that was never an option for us. As a relatively small business with no funding we aren’t in a position to develop our own range of packaging, we have to use what’s available from our suppliers. For the last 6 years we’ve always chosen a range of packaging that is either 100% recyclable or compostable and the more food businesses that make that choice and consumers that buy from those brands the more money will going into developing new ranges and better solutions. Working sustainably isn’t just limited to packaging and we want to highlight some of the things as a brand we do that often go unnoticed:
1. We use minimum packaging and labels (cutlery is only delivered on request and you will never see any promotional flyers in our bags).
2. We package our products as compactly as possible, many competitors put their product in huge containers to make it look better value for money whereas our meals look much smaller when packaged than when put onto a plate.
3. We offer better prices for our sharing boxes to encourage customers to order large sharing boxes (less packaging) rather than the individual pots.
4. Our packaging is all either 100% compostable or recyclable (with the exception of just the seal on our hot pots which we’re currently trying to find an alternative for) and we do ongoing research to make sure we’re using the most sustainable option available.
5. All our meat is from independent, British farmers that use free-range traditional farming techniques and whenever possible we buy UK grown fruit & veg to minimise food miles.
6. Our suppliers deliver in reusable crates, none of the fruit or veg is wrapped in plastic and other ingredients are ordered in huge 25kg + bags rather than domestic size so there’s very little packaging.
7. We aim to have zero food waste across the business. All our meals are made to order and whatever is left we sit down and enjoy for lunch as a team. Also a big consideration for choosing packaging is how long it keeps food fresh for, we don’t add any preservatives etc to our meals but require them to last minimum 3 days. When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
8. Our delivery routes are planned to minimise carbon emissions and we have a higher than most minimum order of £50 to encourage customers to consolidate orders rather than offering an on demand service which results in more packaging and more vehicles on the road.