SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire) — Surging demand for prepared food following the coronavirus outbreak have resulted in a booming home meal replacement (HMR) market.
The popularity of meal kits, in particular, has soared.
Meal kits come with all the ingredients needed for cooking, allowing customers to easily cook even the most difficult cuisines by simply following the instructions.
The problem, however, is that meal kits generate large amounts of disposable waste since each ingredient is typically packaged in a separate plastic bag or pot.
For instance, the bestselling meal kit developed by the largest meal kit producer in the country contained 11 plastic bags, two plastic boxes, and one paper belt.
“It undermines the freshness of each dish if we pack the ingredients in a single package. Separate packaging prevents the food from getting spoiled,” said a source familiar with the industry.
“Even if we choose to accept the fact that each ingredient should be packed separately, putting them into another plastic box and wrapping it with a paper belt seems unnecessary,” said Heo Seung-eun, an activist at Green Korea.
“Meal kit producers need to cut back on excessive packaging, and use recyclable materials.”
Experts argue that both businesses and consumers should come up with a way to reduce plastic waste.
“Businesses should step up to use recyclable, reusable delivery boxes and packages,” said Baek Na-yoon, an activist at the Korean Federation for Environmental Movements.
“The government should impose regulations preventing businesses from using more than a certain amount of plastic packaging.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)