RCG! and the Environment
By Simon Balderson, Nuclear Physicist and Inventor of Ready. Chef. Go!™ Bags
Our Ready. Chef. Go!™ products are made from a combination of specialised, ovenable materials including polyester and paper. Polyester is recyclable and is widely recycled. Paper is both recyclable and compostable. However, when used in combination they are not compostable and should not be recycled, primarily due to the potential of food waste contaminating the recycling chain.
On this basis, the green credentials of the product does not appear to be very strong from afar. However, there are more significant environmental benefits associated with these products.
Firstly, one Ready. Chef. Go!™ bag is used to pack, transport and cook the food. The alternative is to pack the food in a plastic bag, which is thrown away when the consumer gets home. The consumer may put the food in another container for storage in the fridge and a different container for cooking. These will need to be cleaned using hot water and detergent. Furthermore, no utensils or surfaces are required to cut or prepare the food. This also reduces the need for cleaning chemicals and energy.
Secondly, cooking time is reduced by cooking food in the bag. This saves energy, of course. Further energy savings are provided by the fact that there is no baking tray or dish to heat up. The thermal mass of the bag is very low so all the energy of the oven is used to cook the food. The amount of energy used is optimised as a result.
Thirdly, the bag allows food to be cooked in the microwave without compromising the quality of the food. The high pressure environment in the bag prevents the food drying out and ensures that it is tender and tasty. Microwave cooking is enormously more energy efficient than oven cooking and the environmental benefit is huge.
Fourthly, the bag allows vegetables to be cooked without the addition of water (ideally in the microwave again). Water has a very high thermal mass and needs a lot of energy to heat up. Steaming vegetables in a bag uses much less energy. The food is tastier and healthier as a result, of course.
There are other environmental benefits associated with the use of these bags, particularly in the reduction of energy used for cooking and in the reduction of energy and chemicals used for cleaning. These far outweigh the fact that the bags should not be recycled. In Europe, food packaging used for cooking is categorised as catering waste and cannot be recycled (even if the material is nominally recyclable) to avoid food contamination in the recycling chain.
“I have cooked full meals in these steam pouches: fish, vegetables, and even chicken for salads! I love that the pouches use natural juices (or sauce if added) to cook the foods in a healthy way. I also really appreciate the added bonus of an easy post-dinner clean up! With three kids and one on the way, anything that makes life easier and helps manage my time is a staple product in our home.”Arobohm, Roseville, CA