Target: Matt Salzberg, Founder and CEO of Blue Apron
Goal: Correct wrongful labor practices, improve worker conditions, and implement sustainability practices at Blue Apron.
Unconscionable health and safety violations may be the reason for a food delivery company’s sudden boom in profits, according to reports. Preparing meals at home has come for many to feel like a waste of time, especially when ample fast food options and microwaveable meals are readily available. This is perhaps why Blue Apron, a delivery service offering meal kits with ready-to-go ingredients for the hurried home chef, has quickly become so popular. However, the company’s rapid expansion may not have been healthy for anyone involved.
A recent investigation by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health landed Blue Apron with nine violations for “unsafe conditions that put workers at risk for fractured bones, chemical burns, and more.” In addition to risking serious injuries, workers spent long days in warehouses kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The stressful working conditions apparently led to violence, as some employees claim to have been choked, punched, groped, even bitten while on the job. One man was fired for groping another worker and later returned to the premises carrying a weapon, according to one security guard. Blue Apron has stated that they were overwhelmed by the demand they experienced in 2014 and 2015, and this required them to rapidly grow their workforce while hiring practices were perhaps not as stringent as they should have been.
If this wasn’t upsetting enough already, Blue Apron also disappoints on the sustainability side. Although they claim to be developing a more sustainable food system by carefully sourcing their ingredients, the amount of packaging used in their kits is absurd. The company does encourage recycling of the packaging, but this isn’t really as straightforward as it sounds.
For instructions on “recycling” the little ice packs that come in their kits, the Blue Apron website states: “Melt our nontoxic ice packs, cut them open, and pour the gel into a plastic bag, which you can then dispose. Recycle the packaging.” If anyone were to actually follow these instructions, they’d be wasting one plastic bag just to recycle another, not to mention the energy used to melt the ice packs.
Tell Blue Apron this is unacceptable. They must do better in the future, for their workers and for the planet.
Dear Mr. Salzberg,
I was horrified to learn about the health and safety violations that have reportedly taken place at your company’s facilities. Dealing with the rapid expansion of a company is a poor excuse for engaging in shoddy labor practices. When employees are kept in a chaotic, stressful, and even dangerous working environment, it is not altogether surprising that violent and inappropriate behaviors would ensue–and frankly it is the company’s fault. In the future, you must commit to more thorough and careful hiring processes to ensure that your facilities are safe and that workers are treated fairly.
In addition, I would like to add that the amount of packaging used in your meal kits virtually negates any food waste that may be saved by providing precisely measured ingredients. If it is absolutely necessary to use this packaging, the least you can do is ensure that the materials are truly compostable or recyclable. Advising customers on your website to melt ice packs, pour the gel into a plastic bag, and dispose of it in the trash is not solving any problems.
I hope you will address these issues for the benefit of your company, your workers, and consumers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Guillermo Fernandes