Has the Huel team considered a bulk form of RTD, potentially similar to boxed wine? I know sustainability is very important at Huel, but RTD products are extremely wasteful compared to the powders. The bottles are recyclable but I think everyone knows that reduce and reuse are much much more sustainable. Most recycling goes to the landfill and most that actually gets recycled gets shipped from land locked locations (where it would be buried inert) across oceans where it spills into the sea in ports. To combat this Huel could pretty much reuse their powder bags but add a reusable screw on tap and sell an insulated appropriately sized reusable bottle. This would reduce the oxidation and contamination risk and hopefully allow refrigerated and “opened” RTD bags to stay good much longer.
RTD drinkers would this work for you, how many drink the RTD for flavor vs convince? What cost decrease would be required to tolerate the marginally increased inconvenience? Powder folks what additional cost over powder would you tolerate for improved texture, flavor, and convenience?
I still would rather powder because I don’t want huel to ship me water.
I do like the outside-the-bottle thinking here though
Thanks for the suggestions, we’re always looking for ways to make our products more sustainable. It’s worth noting that although recycling/reducing plastic waste is massviely important. In terms of global impact in slowing climate change and keeping global warming to 1.5degrees, the impact of plastic recycling or bioplastics are small. With much more impactful solutions coming from green energy, plant-based diets, reducing food waste (drawdown.org).
However that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. With your suggestions though it wouldn’t be possible as once our RTD is open the product would lose sterility and be vulnerable to microbial growth. So unless it was all consumed in possibly less than a day (chilled), it’s not viable. I would worry that the food waste created would be far, far worse than the benefit from reducing plastic waste.
To eliminate plastic waste:
- Use glass bottles.
- Courier picks up glass bottles during next deliver and sends them back to factory.
- Factory cleans glass bottles and reuses them for new product.
Milk has been delivered daily in reusable glass bottles for hundreds of years.
The problem is this wouldn’t be more sustainable.
Glass bottles weigh more so would increase transport emissions. They are more fragile so are more prone to breakage increasing product waste. On top of this we would have to find or create a factory that can sterilise and make these bottles acceptable for reuse (it’s not as easy as it sounds).
Currently, what we have (25% recycled plastic plus a fully recyclable bottle) is the best option. However, we are always looking at improving and RTD packaging is in our sights.
Products successfully shipped in reusable glass bottles:
- milk: no longer popular, there are still a few brands in Whole Foods Market, with $2 bottle deposit
- Coca Cola: manufactured in Mexico, sold in Arizona, with $1 bottle deposit
- beer: always glass or cans, never in plastic; no bottle deposit, but in China turning in about 10 bottles can get you a free beer
Put RTD into 330ml beer bottles?
The difference with all those products is they are completely different to Huel.
We need to have opaque packaging to minimise the degradation of vitamins and minerals by light. The processing varies massively too for example aseptic processing puts massive constraints on what can be used.
We have looked into this a lot and may again in the future.
Hi Tim, thanks for the input. Do you know what ingredients make Huel more prone to microbial growth than things like milk and oatmilk.
I prefer powder for a bunch of reasons. The waste involved in plastic bottles and transportation are a couple of them. Is mixing up a little powder really so time-consuming?
The wine boxes are an interesting idea, but I bet most people won’t have room in their refrigerators for those.
Is RTD getting any formulation changes in the future?
Of course. We are always looking to improve our products, I can’t say when this will be though.
Thanks. I wish the nutrient profile was closer to the powdered form with the same serving size. Nonetheless RTD is a awesome!
This wasn’t sanitary - so not a great idea - even if it is powder and not fresh food that is easy to spoil and contaminate like milk.
I think it’s a non issue. The amount of waste Huel contributes to with RTD is probably 0.000000001% of what Coke or Pepsi do. You’d be better off going after Coke and Pepsi and complaining there.
glass would cause more C02 emissions than plastic. Glass is heavier. That means more fuel for transportation. Picking up glass to be returned means 2x more transportation. Cleaning glass means new factories. New factories = new emissions