Future Fit Foods, a Longmont startup focused on easy nutritional meals, was named a grantee for the Boulder County Food & Beverage Pollution-Reduced Packaging Pilot to test its reusable mailers program and explore compostable packaging.
Along with Future Fit Foods, Boulder County chose four other food and beverage companies to participate in the program including Hävenly, Pastificio Boulder, Quinn Snacks, and The Tea Spot. The pilot, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) Source Reduction Assistance grant program, will award a total of $40,000 between the grantee to apply “pollution reduced packaging formats” to their business, according to a news release from Boulder County. The pilot participants will also receive technical support from Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) consultants and workshops.
The $10,000 grant enables co-founders Paloma Lopez and Sean Ansett to finish some initiatives they started, including a reusable envelope packaging, using compostable materials, and pursuing its compostable certification for its existing food packaging through the Biodegradable Products Institute.
“It's a huge honor because it's really at the heart of what we're trying to do at Future Fit Foods. We're trying to build a company that is really pushing the boundaries of packaging, helping people close the loop with packaging,” Lopez said.
“This grant means that we can accelerate the initiatives that we were hoping to do down the road. So that we can go to market with some of those great solutions that we've been thinking about.”
Boulder County stated in the news release if the grantees successfully transition to their alternative packaging, they could potentially reduce the pollution impacts of 2.1 million product units manufactured annually.
When Future Fit Foods launched its first food product SUPPAS, a freeze-dried soup brand using plant based ingredients, in August, the startup used previously recycled and/or recyclable materials to ship its orders. But the company wants to take its eco-conscious efforts a step further and form a circular packaging program.
Just using recyclable boxes isn’t enough for Future Fit Foods. Lopez added that cardboard has its recycling limits. Cardboard can be recycled between five and seven times, according to the American Forest and Paper Association.
Future Fit Foods will use part of the grant and pilot program support to explore packaging alternatives. The startup plans on building prototypes of compostable and edible materials.
Part of Future Fit Foods’ grant will support its “RePack initiative.” Though they already looked into using RePack, a brand of reusable mail envelopes, before launching, Future Fit Foods struggled with getting enough envelopes due to supply chain disruptions, according to co-founders Lopez and Ansett.
Composting and recycling is accessible in Boulder County, Lopez said, but not all of Future Fit Foods’ customers in the U.S. may have the same framework. The Longmont business thinks RePack could fill in that gap.
“We know that there's some real gaps and challenges today with packaging. Regardless of whether the packaging is compostable or recyclable, there are infrastructure challenges that make it difficult for people to take action,” Lopez said. “So we move into durable shipping materials that can be reused one time, another time, another time, instead of going into single use packaging.”
SUPPAS soups come in industrial compostable materials, according to Lopez. However Future Fit Foods doesn’t advise customers to compost at home. The startup will use the pilot program to complete its certification. Currently, SUPPAS are delivered with an envelope included in the packaging so customers can return the pouches so Future Fit Foods can properly dispose of them. Future Fit Foods will ask customers to use the RePack containers to mail back pouches whenever they are available. The startup is eyeing January as the start of RePack.