ESD Extra: What to Do With All That Meal Kit Packaging
So it’s 2020 and you’ve resolved to make this the year you start cooking more and eating better. You’ve signed up for your first meal kit and made some tasty dishes, but now you’re wondering what to do with all that packaging. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this quick guide on how to properly dispose of all your meal kit packaging.
Paper and Cardboard
The cardboard box your meals are shipped in, cardboard dividers, paper trays and recipe cards are all made of paper. These pieces of your meal kit can be placed in the recycling. However, if these items become wet or food-soiled on their way to your house or while you’re cooking, they should be tossed in the trash.
These guys do a great job of keeping your food from spoiling while it’s shipped to your home, but they also require some attention to be disposed of properly. To dispose of an ice pack, start by checking whether the ice pack is just frozen water or something else. If the ice pack contains anything other than water, thaw it, cut it open and then squeeze the gel into the garbage. Afterward, rinse out the plastic film, dry it and bring it to a plastic bag drop-off. Gel from ice packs will cause bad clogs in your drains, so make sure this gel doesn’t get washed down a sink or flushed down a toilet. If your ice pack is just filled with water, cut a corner of the pack and place it in a sink to thaw. After the water has melted and drained, dry the empty pack and drop it off with other plastic bags.
If you aren’t going to take the plastic film to a drop-off, you can toss your ice pack in the garbage.
Or, better yet, reuse your ice pack! Stick the ice pack back in your freezer, and then toss it in a cooler to chill drinks or food whenever you’re camping, tailgating or hosting. That way you won’t have to buy as many bags of ice at the store.
Often containing vegetables, spices and sauces, these bags should be dropped off with other plastic bags once they are clean and dry or tossed in the garbage.
Plastic Clamshells, Jars and Bottles
This is where things can get a bit tricky. Luckily, most, if not all, the plastic containers in your meal kit will be clearly labeled with a plastic resin number to help you identify the type of plastic. From there you can use our Recycling Guide to find out how you should dispose of each type of plastic. Keep in mind, items smaller than the lid on a standard peanut butter jar are too small to recycle and must be put in the trash. Have some plastic that’s not recyclable? Upcycle it! Check out this video by Purple Carrot for some fun ideas.
Cooking at home creates food scraps. If you are composting at home, toss in your potato peels, scallion ends and other food scraps. If not, these items can go in the garbage. When composting in your backyard, remember to avoid putting dairy products, meat, or fats and oils into the compost.
Find something in your meal kit that isn’t mentioned here? Look it up in our handy Recycling Guide.
Food for Thought
Feel like you’re finally getting the hang of cooking at home? Save those recipe cards, or find some new recipes on the web, and try cooking without the meal kit. Plan out your meals ahead of time to minimize food waste and remember to bring your reusable bags and produce bags to the store. Bon appétit!
(Post courtesy of SanJoseRecycles.org)