Report: Meal kits offer smaller carbon footprint

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Report: Meal kits offer smaller carbon footprint

Meal kit companies, such as Hello Fresh, have been scrutinized for their extensive use of plastic

Meal kit delivery services are continuously scrutinized for their use of never-ending plastic and cardboard. But a new study has researchers arguing that these meal kit delivery services actually have a smaller carbon footprint than equivalent meals bought from a grocery store and prepared at home.

Brent Heard, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan and first author of the study, said to NPR, "When you zoom out and look at the whole life cycle, packaging is a relatively small contributor to the overall environmental impacts of a meal. What really ends up mattering is the quantity of food wasted throughout the supply chain."

According to NPR, the study, published Monday in the scientific journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, examines the whole life cycle — from farm to garbage can — of meal kits and their grocery store equivalents, and finds that, on average, store meals produce 33 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than their equivalents from Blue Apron. Much of the reduced emissions stems from less food waste and a more streamlined supply chain, according to the study.

"Folks are really focused on the plastics and packaging in meal kits," says Shelie Miller, an environmental scientist at the University of Michigan who led the study. "That's important, but it's not the full story."

To read the NPR report, click here.

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