The article below is based on an article originally published in 2022. Since its original posting, significant changes have occurred in the realm of sustainability, reflecting both evolving consumer preferences and the intensifying impact of climate change.

In the updated 2024 article, we delve deeper into these shifts.

Notably, there has been a marked increase in the percentage of Gen Z consumers who prioritize sustainability, rising from 62% to 91%.

Additionally, road transport's share of global emissions has surged from 15% to 38%, underscoring an urgent need for sustainable delivery solutions.

We've also observed enhanced sustainability practices among leading meal kit delivery services, including more robust community impact initiatives and advancements in recyclable packaging. This updated analysis captures these critical developments and their implications for businesses striving to maintain a competitive edge through sustainable practices.

Keep reading to discover the current state of the importance placed on businesses to adhere to sustainable practices.

With 59% of youth expressing concern for climate change,  sustainability has been at the forefront of thoughts on the future for all industries. Road transport itself accounted for 38% of global emissions in 2022, presenting an opportunity for companies to minimize this effect by investing in more sustainable delivery options.

Claiming your business is sustainable can be a gray area for both the brand and the consumer: are you simply using recycled packaging? Using electric vehicles? Offsetting carbon emissions? There are many factors that influence a brand’s ability to stay sustainable.

Forbes has defined sustainability as “providing for the present needs without compromising the needs of the future generations to meet theirs.” The definition is broad, but for the purposes of this analysis, we can judge brands’ commitment to sustainability based on their attention to the impact of their business practices.

As younger generations rally behind climate change and continue to demand more sustainable practices when purchasing, it is clear that companies need to embrace a sustainable business model in order to maintain their competitive edge. The question that remains is, how can businesses leverage sustainability to meet a variety of consumer preferences?

Generational habits

It’s clear that there is a generational response to sustainability across the many generations with buying power today:

Consumers aged 18-24: Gen Z

It’s no surprise that 91 percent of Gen Z-ers point to sustainability being an important aspect of purchasing behavior, along with a similar receptiveness to subscription-based services. What is surprising from a generation still establishing itself in today’s job market is the financial commitment behind the desire for sustainable business practices. Of Gen Z respondents, 77 percent stated that they are comfortable paying more for sustainably sourced products.

Consumers aged 25-40: Millennials (aka Gen Y)

Millennials’ purchasing habits mirror their younger counterparts, agreeing that sustainability is an important deciding factor in purchasing from a brand. Now fully established, Millennials have the buying power to support sustainable business models, and 85 percent of millennials revealed that quality of the product is their first concern when purchasing, closely followed by environmental concerns at 71 percent.

Consumers aged 41-56: Gen X

Currently at the height of their careers, Gen X carries a significant amount of spending power, with some noting that this spending power is the true driver of a shift toward sustainable shopping. Over half of Gen X consumers coincide with millennial and Gen Z’s preference on buying from sustainable brands, with a focus on cutting carbon emissions and eliminating single-use plastic packaging. Lastly, 84 percent of Gen X revealed an expectation for brands to become more sustainable in the future, further displaying their contributions to this shift in consumer preferences.

A cardboard box with a leaf on top, representing sustainable packaging options.

Sustainability best practices

There are many ways to instill sustainable practices in business, such as:

  • Create a transparent sustainable strategy: Align your business goals with that of sustainable practices, and communicate this strategy to all major stakeholders.
  • Engage your employees: incentivize greener habits in the workplace and encourage employee efforts and ideas toward sustainability.
  • Partner with green organizations: work alongside those that are already in the race toward sustainability via charitable donations, fundraisers, and other initiatives.
  • Challenge your supply chain options: Your company can reduce its carbon footprint through its sourcing, production, delivery, waste and even packaging by making it greener.
A closeup of a Blue Apron subscription box

Sustainability in the world of meal kit delivery

Let’s take a dive into the world of meal kit delivery and how it can play its part in promoting sustainability. Food production is responsible for at least 26 percent  of carbon emissions, and with public awareness of its impact increasing, meal kit delivery services are becoming more popular.

With this growing demand, logistics and organization in terms of delivery are a constant concern. There are solutions to increase efficiency and maintain sustainability, which we can witness from valuable players in the industry:

An advertising image from Sun Basket, featuring a delivery box and some pre-prepared meals.

1. Sunbasket

Stating that “Healthy meals should taste good first and do good always,” Sunbasket has combined two important values- quality and sustainability.

  • Ingredients: The company capitalizes on a sustainable approach by providing fresh, USDA organic ingredients that are pre-portioned to minimize food waste.
  • Packaging: It has even extended its commitment to sustainability to almost 100% recycled packaging.
  • Delivery: First company to offer direct-to-consumer delivery (via InstaCart) which has proven to be sustainable by cutting out the middleman and lowering costs.
  • Community impact: Participates in donations to food banks, eliminating food waste.
A promotional photo from Green Chef, featuring packages of meals and a delivery box.

2. Green Chef

With a 100 percent carbon emissions and plastic offset, it’s no wonder why Green Chef is the self-proclaimed #1 Sustainable Meal Kit. Here’s a breakdown of Green Chef’s best practices:

  • Ingredients: Green Chef’s meals use mostly sustainably sourced organic ingredients.
  • Packaging: First Meal Kit to use ClimaCell, a revolutionary styrofoam replacement.
  • Delivery: Offer specified delivery dates with a subscription plan to consolidate and shorten delivery routes.
  • Community impact: Partners with many sustainability organizations, such as PlasticBank, , to ensure quality in packaging and ingredients.
A promotional image from Hello Fresh, featuring bags of meals and  delivery box.

3. HelloFresh

One of the more well-known brands, HelloFresh prides itself in being 100 percent carbon neutral. Its efforts toward sustainability contribute to a 25 percent lower carbon footprint of meal kit delivery in comparison to store bought groceries.

  • Ingredients: full transparency in where the food is coming from and farm-fresh ingredients
  • Packaging: Fully recyclable packaging and waste minimization
  • Delivery: Efficient delivery and shorter supply chain systems
  • Community impact: A clear partnership with communities all over the world, through their program LimeAid, which aids families facing humanitarian crisis by providing them with food through HelloFresh. 

How can Fluid Truck help my business increase its sustainability practices?

We too are taking steps to make transportation more sustainable for businesses big and small. Fluid Truck presents the opportunity to sustain a sharing economy, meaning that all vehicles are being used at an optimal capacity, eliminating the excess of vehicles on the road. Furthermore, Fluid Truck’s proprietary technology engages in driver tracking and route optimization to increase fuel efficiency. We have even begun to work with EVs, with plans to expand this model.  

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