Packaging and delivering your order

October 31, 2016 3:02 pm Published by 6 Comments

A note about our packaging (and plastic):

As green as we can be

In our packaging, as in everything else we do, we’re keen to be as ‘green’ as possible. Many of our customers share this aim, with the goal of Zero Waste in their sights – and often contact us to enquire about the packaging we use. We hope this note will answer any questions you may have.

Our primary aim is to deliver our products to you intact and in the best condition. We use a variety of boxes, bags, packaging fillers and wraps to ensure this happens; it’s not perfect but we keep trying to get the right balance between low waste and practicality.

For Information about BPA see our blog about BPA in tins

Our suppliers’ packaging

We receive our products in bulk from our suppliers. The bulk stock arrives in boxes, paper sacks and polypropylene woven bags. The boxes and paper sacks are generally lined with plastic, to keep the contents fresh, dry and free from pests on their long journey to our building.

Our suppliers source their bulk goods from various producers: this results in a variety of packaging being used. A product may arrive one week in a cardboard box lined with paper, and the next week in a plastic bag inside a cardboard box. Grains may be supplied in paper sacks, lined paper sacks or vacuum-packed in plastic. It is therefore hard to give a firm answer to customers’ questions as to how the bulk produce is originally packaged: it varies from week to week!

Prepacked wholefoods (eg the 250g and 500g bags)are normally in plastic or cellophane. The compostable plastics are simply not strong enough yet and some contain GM material too.

Our own packaging

When we pack our bulk stock down into smaller bags, we aim to use as little plastic as possible. Sometimes, however, we find it essential. Plastic is still the best material available to keep a product fresh and in good condition. It’s also stronger than some paper bags and, as a lining, prevents moistness from weakening the exterior paper bag. Our dried fruit is moist and is occasionally lightly coated with vegetable oil, while our nuts and seeds are in many cases naturally oily. We use plastic and cellophane bags, where unavoidable, to keep these products airtight, fresh and suitable for transport.

We seal our cellophane bags with our labels and the minimum of sticky tape. Our paper bags are generally closed with a bag-stitcher, avoiding the use of tape altogether.

For most of our customers, we then pack the order into external cardboard boxes. We use new, double-walled cardboard boxes for most of our parcels, as we have found these to be strong and reliable.

The goods inside the boxes are further protected by ‘loosefill’: usually non-GM corn ‘noodles’ that provide cushioning for the products. This loosefill is degradable – it simply dissolves in water. We will, occasionally, reuse polystyrene loosefill from our suppliers as packaging, rather than throw it away.

We also use bubble-wrap and air pillows where we feel these are necessary. We have not yet managed to source degradable versions of these: the eco bubble-wrap we trialled was tricky to tear and handle, and our (still young!) pillow-inflater does not fit the degradable rolls. However, we continue to search for alternatives.

For some customers ordering 20kg or 25kg sacks, we pack the orders in woven polypropylene sacks, which give good protection on a sometimes rough journey to their destination. We have found that two sacks are best, as one often wears through. We form a handle with the fastener to make the sack easier to lift.

Customers with extremely large orders will often receive them on a pallet wrapped in heavy-duty cling-film.

Recycling packaging

We’re keen to reuse packaging wherever possible – if one of our supplier’s original boxes is sufficiently sturdy, we might pack your order into it. But don’t worry: if any allergies are noted on your order, we won’t reuse a box that could cause you problems.

If we can’t reuse our suppliers’ packaging, we will recycle as much of it as possible.

We encourage our customers to do the same. Our plastic and cellophane bags can be reused and in some areas, recycled; our bubble-wrap and other loosefill can serve your own packaging needs; and our paper and cardboard packaging is obviously recyclable.

Striking the right balance?

We do constantly review the amount of packaging we use, trying to strike the right balance between over-packaging and avoiding breakages.

We like to think we are quite good at getting your order to you safely – but if you have any particular packaging requirements, or any comments on how we could improve our packaging service, do please contact us: it is a work in progress!

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This post was written by Sue


  • Steph says:

    Could you possibly tell me which lentil, chickpea and nut products DON’T have plastic packaging please? Thanks

    • Yzanne says:

      Hi Steph. We stock a wide range of lentil, chickpea and nut products, from a number of providers and brands. Our own-brand NGF products can be easily packed without using any plastic packaging; those that arrive from other suppliers, however, still tend to come in plastic. The best plan, so that we can answer your query as quickly and efficiently as possible, would be to email us ( or phone (02476 973297) and give us an idea of the products and – vitally – the quantities you’re interested in. We can then work out if we would be able to provide these without plastic packaging. You would also need to emphasise, in the ‘Other notes’ area of any order you placed, that you didn’t want any plastic used on the external packaging of your order. We’re usually able to oblige in that respect! Please do give us a ring, so that we can help you out.

      Thank you,

      Yzanne Mackay
      Writer and Editor
      Naturally Good Food

  • Robyn Wynn says:

    Are we able to send boxes and corn noodlea back to you to reuse? I have no use for the prefer they are reused rather than just chucked and new ones made. Thanks Robyn

    • Yzanne says:

      Hi Robyn – if you’re based anywhere near us, we’d be delighted to receive your old packaging back. Many of our previous customers, when we had a shop, used to drop their old boxes back. However, if you’d have to send the boxes and noodles in the post, then it seems likely to us that the energy/fuel used to transport them to us would outweigh the environmental benefits of us being able to reuse them (leaving aside the rough treatment boxes sometimes receive in the post). The cardboard of the box is obviously recyclable and the noodles dissolve in water (they’re made from non-GM corn) – so if returning them to us isn’t an option, we’d suggest you recycle/dissolve instead.

      Thank you for thinking about this. We spend a lot of time mulling over the best environmental options for our packaging. We do tend to reuse boxes from our suppliers anyway – although when they run out, we use new boxes.

      Best wishes,
      Yzanne Mackay
      Writer and Editor
      Naturally Good Food

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