Reducing Takeaway Waste: Tips for UK Businesses

takeaway waste containers in indian takeaway business

Takeaway waste is increasing every year and an increasing number of busy individuals seek convenience and taste over home-cooking.

Where environmental sustainability is becoming more important, takeaways in the UK have a great opportunity to reduce waste and make a positive impact on the environment.

From packaging to food waste, every aspect of the takeaway process can be optimised to minimise environmental footprint.

Here are some practical tips and insights to help your business thrive while being eco-friendly:

Table of Contents

chinese food takeaway sign

Understanding the Impact of Takeaway Waste

Takeaway food packaging plays a substantial role in the generation of waste, contributing to environmental concerns such as landfill overflow and marine pollution.

In the UK, the scale of this issue is staggering: an estimated 11 billion items of packaging are utilised annually from takeaways alone.

This figure includes a wide range of materials, including plastic containers, paper bags, and disposable cutlery, all of which have significant environmental implications.

Did you know there’s a single-use plastic ban coming into play? Read more in our dedicated blog!

The disposal of such vast quantities of packaging poses challenges at various stages of the waste management process.

Firstly, these items often end up in landfills, where their decomposition rates can be extremely slow, contributing to climate change.

Secondly, a considerable portion of this packaging finds its way into marine ecosystems, either through improper disposal or bad waste management practices.

Once in the oceans, these materials can harm marine life through ingestion or entanglement, encouraging a cycle of environmental harm.

UK takeaways have an important role to play in protecting the environment around us.

plastic takeaway waste containers

Tips to Reduce Takeaway Waste

1. Opt for Eco-Friendly Packaging

  • Switch to Biodegradable Materials: Replace traditional plastic containers with biodegradable alternatives made from materials like PLA (polylactic acid) or bagasse (sugarcane fiber).

  • Promote Reusables: Encourage customers to bring their own containers by offering incentives like discounts or loyalty points.

2. Streamline Portion Control

  • Offer Variable Portion Sizes: Provide options for customers to choose smaller or larger portions to reduce food waste.

  • Train Staff: Educate your team on portion control techniques to minimise excess servings.

3. Efficient Inventory Management

  • Monitor Stock Levels: Use technology to track inventory and reduce overordering, which can lead to food waste.

  • Donate Surplus Food: Partner with local charities to donate excess food rather than disposing of it.

4. Sustainable Delivery Practices

  • Optimise Delivery Routes: Plan efficient delivery routes to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

  • Use Electric Vehicles: Consider investing in electric delivery vehicles or bikes to lower your carbon footprint.
takeaway food from chinese takeaway in plastic single use containers


Reducing takeaway waste is not just about complying with regulations; it’s about demonstrating your commitment to environmental stewardship.

By implementing these strategies, UK takeaway businesses can foster a positive reputation, attract eco-conscious customers, and contribute to a greener future.

Embrace sustainability today to ensure a thriving business tomorrow!


  • How can I convince customers to accept biodegradable packaging?
  • Is switching to biodegradable packaging cost-effective?
  • What should I do with leftover food?
  • How can I encourage customers to bring their own containers?

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