Plastic Packaging Journey – The Honest Story

We care deeply about our footprint as a company.  We want to be as environmentally conscious as possible and we know our customers care as much as we do about the issue of plastic.  

Our journey to find the perfect packaging has been a long one – and it is ongoing.  We are not alone on this hunt, all conscious businesses are on the same journey.

How it all began.

When we started up our company, we sat and looked at all the options.  We tried and tested various paper products but they were too weak and split during delivery.  We found that as paper is porous it didn’t keep the produce fresh which meant the food oxidised and became of poor quality quicker.  After deeper research we found that paper has a bigger carbon footprint than plastic.  We settled with recyclable plastic to get started while we continued researching.

Our other choices of material.

Bioplastics (compostable packaging) have been on the scene for some time and they sound like the perfect solution.  The truth is that although these materials are made from plants they still need heat, microbes and moisture to break down (which are not present in landfill).  These plant plastics have different claims on them depending on the manufacturer, but they only break down in industrial composting units which are not common in the UK recycling infrastructure.  Although compostable packaging looks ideal (and sounds good on packets) unless you have access to an industrial composting centre, they won’t solve the problem.  Initial research has found that these ‘compostable’ versions can be dug up after 3 years and still carry shopping.

Home compostable packaging is also popular on the plastic free scene, and does appear to be better than regular compostable packaging.  At first this sounded like a great option however it is also not as compostable as it sounds and has a larger footprint long term.  People in the recycling industry suggest that the sad truth is compostable packaging rarely gets recycled or composted effectively.

This wasn’t good enough for us.  We knew it would look good and sound good from a marketing perspective, but wasn’t the best answer for the planet.  For now, being transparent about the true lifespan of compostable bioplastics and choosing a UK-wide recyclable option is the most honest move.

Our Plan Moving Forward?

We currently use polyethylene bags which can be recycled widely in the UK through curbside collections or at local supermarkets. We have moved to peel-able labels so these can easily be removed from the bags before recycling.  After much thought, we believe choosing the most widely recycled material is the best step any company can take at the moment.

We still use kraft and transparent pouches for some items and changing these is our next big step.

Ways We Help The Planet

  • We have recently switched to recyclable paper tape and only ever use recycled kraft paper as packaging protection inside your parcels.
  • We arrange weekly recycling collections from our warehouse. Most of the packaging that our bulk produce comes in is recycled.
  • All of our energy comes from renewable sources including solar, tidal and wind.

We have always tried very hard to reduce our carbon foot print and will continue to do so. We are particularly excited about making our recycling process easier and we will have a fully printed, recyclable bags with no labels very soon.

The Forest Whole Food’s Team


Finding out more:

If you want to find out more about recycling and plastic initiatives in the UK try these links:

GOV.UK will be able to tell you what gets taken curbside in your area and when.

Wrap is a government backed charity, looking to create more sustainable planet.

OPRL helps us and other companies with their recycling operations and logos to make packaging recycling easy to navigate.

Recycle Now can tell you everything you need to know about recycling in your area – they offer the what, how and where of recycling different items.