The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 22, 2007

Frozen Foods & my letter to Amy’s Kitchen

amys_pasta_shells6/20/2007: Nearly all frozen dinners are packaged with some kind of plastic. I say “nearly” because I have not checked them all out. I suspect they all are. The dilemma for me is that I don’t like to cook, and frozen meals are so convenient, and the organic ones that you can get at Whole Foods are actually nutritious or at least better than Lean Cuisine.

Most of the commercial brands come in a plastic tray with a sheet of plastic over the top. Right off the bat, I’ll eliminate those from my diet without hesitation. The healthier brands like Amy’s Kitchen or Organic Bistro (Chicken Citron on Spinach with Herbed Quinoa and Sundried Tomato Edamame. YUM!) come packed in a biodegradable cardboard tray or bowl with either plastic wrap on the top or, in the case of Amy’s, a plastic overwrap which surrounds the entire bowl. At a loss as to whether to continue purchasing these meals, I sent the following letter to Amy’s Kitchen yesterday, and received a very prompt response. Please read both letters and help me decide what I should do!!!

—–Original Message—–
From: Beth Terry
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 4:41 PM
To: Amy
Subject: Amy’s Contact: any products without plastic?

Dear Amy,
Hi. I am really trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste I generate this year. Are there any Amy’s products that are packaged without any plastic? I’m really sad to give up the stuffed shells, but I simply can’t justify the plastic covering. Also, do you have plans to reduce the amount of plastic that you currently use? I AM grateful that you don’t use a plastic tray, but I’d still like to see a package with zero plastic if that’s possible.

From Beth Terry

————————————-

Subject: RE: Amy’s Contact: any products without plastic?
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 10:52:19 -0700
From: “Amy”
To: [Beth Terry]
Hello Beth,

Thanks for taking the time to contact us. I can certainly understand your desire to eliminate plastic waste! Whenever possible we do indeed try to package our meals in the least amount of packaging!

We originally packaged several of our meals without the plastic wrap (FYI… technically it is called ‘overwrap’). Do do this, we needed to use a “thicker” cardboard box. While the box was completely recyclable… we found that many recycling centers refused to recycle these boxes because it “touched the food”. We also found the meals were frankly not “surviving” the transportation process…and we received calls from consumers complaining about this issue (as well as not being able to recycle). Another think that I notice was that consumers thought that we had “made a mistake” and had either “forgotten the overwrap” or that the package had been tampered with. So we found that in addition to protecting the meals…the plastic wrap actually does give an extra sense of comfort knowing that this meal was not “tampered” with. Does this make sense?

But please remember that all of our [outer] packaging is recyclable…I would really hate for you to give up this meal!

Please send us your mailing address and I would be happy to send you our brochure and coupons.

Best regards,

Carol Tamagni
Customer Relations

————————————-

So, what should I do? Anyone? She wants to send me coupons! (I’m so cheap, easy, and superficial.)

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Awen

Unfortunately, if there is food residue, our recycling company, like the majority of them, will refuse the entire bin. That’s because the grease interferes with production for second life products after recycling.

And most city recycling companies do not accept the clear plastic over the top either. In theory, yeah, it’s recyclable, but if they don’t have the means or contract to deal with the waste, it’s not going to get recycled.

mdsnow16

I agree with laleche. If it is clearly stated somewhere on the packaging people will understand when they open it up. I am able to recycle everything I purchase with the exception of the plastic overwrap on frozen foods. If this wrap was eliminated or we were somehow able to recycle it I would almost never have to use the trash.

laleche

They should go back to the old method. In Seattle, you can combine any cardboard with food particles on it into your yard waste recycling. They could lesson the consumer issue by stating clearly on the packaging that there is no plastic overwrap to help the planet and that the food is perfectly safe.

awen

Given how many cardboard products have plastic fibers integrated into the material for extra strength (certain brands of toilet paper rolls), or chemicals to smooth the surface for chemical color inks (like every TV dinner in existence), this practice is in very poor judgment. Even back in the old days we knew never to put colored newspaper pages onto our gardens or into our composts because it would contaminate things. And those dyes and paper treatments were comparatively harmless.