New York (CNN) — Instant ramen Cup Noodles is giving its packaging its first major makeover in 50 years — but customers might not immediately notice it.
Beginning in early 2024, the cups will be made from paper rather than styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, making the packaging more environmentally friendly. The change also means that for the first time ever, the ramen can now be made in the microwave, eliminating the need for boiling hot water.
However, the ramen’s recognizable logo and packaging design aren’t changing. The new cups will be used for all the roughly dozen flavors.
Nissin Foods USA said that the update is part of broader environmental changes the family-owned company is enacting, mirroring the changes other major food companies are making to become more sustainable.
In addition to eliminating the plastic wrap on Cup Noodles, the new cups’ sleeves are made from 100% recycled paper also nixes the plastic wrap and the cups are made from 40% recycled fiber.
Consumers have been demanding more sustainable products from food companies, but environmental advocates have said changes like Cup Noodles’ are a good start but insufficient. Waste continues to pile up in oceans. Efforts from companies like Starbucks and Coca-Cola to reduce plastics and straws have been slow moving. A major effort from some of the biggest food producers to clean and recycle containers has barely gotten off the ground.
But Nissin Foods USA CEO Michael Price said in a statement that the company is finding ways to evolve “to support the current needs of our consumers, the environment and the world.” He added that the new paper cup “marks an important milestone for Cup Noodles and a key step in our environmental commitment.”
Cup Noodles, which launched in the US in 1973, has attempted to boost sales by releasing trendy flavors. Earlier this year, it released its first-ever breakfast ramen that mixed the flavors of sausage, maple syrup pancakes and eggs in a saucy texture.
Last month in Japan, Cup Noodles sold a “gamer-friendly” ramen that had caffeinated noodles.
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