Seaweed sauce sachets stir up sustainability shift


Just Eat restaurant partners tackles plastic pollution with a trial a range of Hellmann’s sauces served in seaweed-based sachets.

The trial, supported by the Innovate UK fund, is a result of a four-way project between Hellmann’s, Just Eat, Innovate UK and Notpla.

Andrew Kenny, Managing Director, Just Eat UK, said: “As market leader, we take our responsibility to affect positive change in the food delivery sector seriously.

“One of our key areas of focus is helping our 35,700 restaurant partners across the UK reduce plastic pollution.

“We are delighted to partner with Hellmann’s, a business which shares our commitment to making mealtimes more environmentally-friendly, as we embark upon the next step in bringing these sustainable sachets into the mainstream.

“Our first two trials of the seaweed-based sauce sachets with Notpla received excellent feedback and we were thrilled to be recognised with a highly commended at the Responsible Business Awards for this. It’s great to see more takeaways get on board to help us in our fight against plastic waste.”

During the trial 65 Just Eat restaurant partners have so far offered a range of Hellmann’s ketchup, BBQ, tartare and garlic sauces served in the seaweed sachets, removing the need for single-use plastic sauce sachets in takeaways.

The trial is currently London based with plans to expand to more cities.

Hazel Detsiny, VP Marketing Foods & Tea and Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions, Unilever UK & Ireland, said: “This trial is a great example of collaboration driving game-changing innovation.

“In partnership with Just Eat and Notpla, we’re creating a new and exciting experience for Just Eat customers who can enjoy the same great tasting Hellmann’s – but with zero plastic waste. Squeezing sauce out of a seaweed sachet will be a first for many, but it’s one small change with potential for big impact.”

The Notpla sachets are made from a seaweed-based material and naturally biodegrade in approximately six weeks.

The sustainable sachets are opened just like normal sachets and can be thrown into the home compost or a normal waste bin, to fully decompose.

They are flavourless and colourless, which means the taste of the sauce is exactly the same as in a plastic sachet but without the plastic waste.

Pierre Paslier, co-CEO of Notpla, added: “Takeaway sauce sachets are one of the hardest single use plastics to deal with. They’re easy to litter and have low residual value which limits the recycling potential.

“We’re very excited to work hand in hand with leaders in the takeaway and sauce sectors. Sustainability is a top priority for their consumers and is key for these sectors to survive in the long run. Just Eat and Hellmann’s are pioneering the way to a sustainable takeaway industry. Being partially funded by Innovate UK has been key to the development of our technology, and it clearly shows how vibrant the UK deep-tech scene is.”

Just Eat first teamed up with Notpla to test the sachets with 10 restaurant partners last year.

As a result, more than 46,000 plastic ketchup sachets were prevented from entering landfill, receiving positive feedback from customers:

  • 92% said they would like to see more of their takeaway sauces coming in the seaweed-based sauce sachets.
  • 91% found the sachets as easy or easier to use than a normal sachet.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The devastating impact of plastic pollution on our natural land and marine environments is all too clear to us, and even something small like a sauce sachet can contribute to this blight.

“Through both our landmark Environment Bill and our Resources and Waste Strategy, we’re working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste and we’ve made real progress – driving down plastic bag use by 90% through the 5p charge, introducing a world-leading ban on microbeads and setting out plans for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers to push up recycling rates.

“But we can’t turn the tide on plastic pollution alone, so I’m hugely encouraged to see major brands like Just Eat and Hellmann’s embracing innovative, environmentally-friendly alternatives to significantly cut their use of plastic.”

Last year, Just Eat announced a package of measures to reduce excess plastics used in the UK takeaway sector.

In addition to the partnership with Notpla, other measures announced by Just Eat include:

  • Just Eat stopped selling single use plastics in its partner shop in March 2018.
  • Trialling a pre-ticked box on its app and website to encourage customers to opt out of receiving single use plastic items such as cutlery that they don’t need.
  • Working with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to create and distribute a series of resources for restaurants to help them and their customers reduce plastic usage over time.