Food Delivery Cold Packs: Reuse, Upcycling, & Recycling Tips

Food Delivery Cold Packs: Reuse, Upcycling, & Recycling Tips

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

If you’re getting your meals delivered, you might have already got a set of chilly packs. These gel-filled plastic luggage do an ideal job of preserving perishable meals chilled. But what do you do with the chilly packs after you’ve unpacked your supply?

Many individuals have turned to meal subscription companies for a variety of reasons, together with COVID security measures, comfort, and portion management. Although these companies vary from delivering totally cooked meals to offering the substances and recipes so you possibly can prepare dinner the meal your self, they’ve one component in widespread: Many substances have to be cooled to maintain them recent. Gel packs, which keep frozen longer than ice, are a preferred answer for meals supply companies.

Consisting of sealed, thick plastic luggage crammed with re-freezable gel, the packs are helpful and reusable. But what if you have already got greater than you should utilize? Can you recycle them?

Know Your Local Recycling Regulations

Most meals supply corporations present directions on learn how to get rid of their packaging. Just a few even supply a take-back program — which is right. Closing the waste loop and making the business responsible for its waste is a sustainability greatest apply. If you possibly can return the packaging to the corporate, take full benefit of this selection!

Otherwise, research the offered disposal directions with an open thoughts. The firm could have good intentions however recycling necessities and availability differ by location. Know how your native recycling program works and observe the native recycling steerage.

But earlier than you resort to recycling, think about the reuse and upcycling potential of the chilly packs.

Reuse and Donation

Nearly all meal supply corporations inform you to reuse their freezer luggage for private use. That’s nice if you’re simply an occasional buyer. We can all use a number of chilly packs to fill freezer house. The appliance works harder to chill air than already frozen objects, so filling empty house in your freezer is an efficient apply to reduce your power use.

Perhaps you can reuse certainly one of these luggage as an ice pack when slightly one is damage or when you have got a headache or backache. They’re nice to make use of in a cooler if you’re packing meals to go. However, should you get meals delivered weekly, your freezer shall be crammed with chilly packs shortly.

You may go alongside these chilly packs to nonprofits. Ask round at your native meals financial institution, church buildings, faculties, pre-schools, Meals on Wheels, and some other group close to you that prepares and strikes meals. While this might relieve you of your surplus chilly packs for now, this in all probability isn’t sustainable and you should have an extra once more after a number of months.

food delivery cold packs

What To Do With the Goo

Before you recycle the bag, it’s worthwhile to get rid of the gel. Many meal supply corporations direct you to throw away the frozen goo inside their chilly packs. I say attempt to let it air dry first to take up much less landfill house. Spill the bag’s contents out onto a baking sheet and let it dry out in a single day, then put it within the trash.

Although your meal supply firm could recommend you place the liquid down the drain, it’s not a good suggestion. Solid waste districts discourage this apply and it could clog drains.

Some corporations say that you just might be able to use the liquid contents as a plant fertilizer. This sounds fairly nice however be cautious of it except you discover out precisely what the contents are. If the producer’s identify is printed on the pack, you can strive contacting them to request the substances. But should you get no response and determine to strive it anyway, I’d advocate diluting the goo with water and making an attempt it on a plant you’re not so keen on as a trial. Otherwise, the chilly pack gel shouldn’t be recyclable, so get rid of it within the trash.

Recycling Cold Pack Bags

Good information: The plastic bag is probably recyclable. In most instances, the shell or envelope for the liquid chilly pack is a thick movie plastic. After you take away the contents, minimize the bag alongside two or three sides so it could possibly fully dry out earlier than dropping off at your regular plastic film recycling location.

Most grocery shops, big-box retail chains, and mainstream {hardware} shops supply places the place you possibly can drop off plastic movie and luggage for recycling. The luggage are not recyclable in most curbside pickup municipal applications.


Upcycling the chilly packs can be an ideal choice. Consider what you are able to do with the pack when it’s not frozen. Perhaps you want some padding whereas packing or want one thing squishy between delicate saved objects within the attic? The packs might be lined with cozy materials and utilized by a tiny canine as a mattress (however not used as a cushion for cats, bigger canine, or individuals because the packs would burst). Ask the children you recognize if their dolls may use a trampoline or waterbed. Action figures would possibly make use of squishy sandbags throughout a combat.

Voice Your Concerns About Packaging

Waste from meal supply companies is usually excessive. We encourage you to strain your meals supply service to take accountability for the chilly packs and different packaging waste they produce. If sufficient clients voice their issues, it could possibly make a difference.

Images courtesy of Maureen Wise. This article was initially printed on December 21, 2020.