Sustainable Packaging Options for Takeaways

man opening takeaway packaging

We all love a good takeaway – a steaming curry, crispy fish and chips, a juicy burger – but the mountains of plastic packaging often left behind can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Luckily, there are a variety of sustainable options that keep your food fresh and our planet healthy!

1. Cardboard Boxes

Takeaway burger in cardboard packaging

Takeout’s a lifesaver, but the packaging pileup? Not so much.

Here’s how restaurants can win over eco-conscious customers with sustainable options:

  • Bio-Based & Compostable
    Toss the plastic! Opt for sugarcane, wheat straw, or bamboo containers. They’re often grease-proof, microwave-safe, and break down into healthy soil after use.
  • The Reusable Revolution
    Design custom, multi-compartment containers from sustainable materials. Offer a deposit program – customers pay a small fee, get a refund for returns, or keep them for future takeout!
  • Recycle & Source Responsibly
    Need some packaging? Choose recycled paperboard containers that are certified compostable or recyclable. Look for FSC-certified paper – it ensures trees are responsibly sourced.
  • Edible Alternatives
    Get creative! Explore seaweed-based wrappers or beeswax wraps for specific items. It’s a natural and sustainable way to ditch plastic wrap.

Bonus Tip: Combine these strategies! Prioritise reusability, cut back on packaging, and choose eco-friendly materials. It’s a win-win for your business and the planet.

2. Paper Bags

Paper takeaway bag

Simple and ideal for dry takeaway items. Paper bags are a sustainable and practical choice for takeaway businesses looking to package dry food items. They’re readily available, affordable, and most importantly, recyclable! This makes them a clear winner compared to less eco-friendly options.

From bakery goods like delicate sandwiches and pastries to savory snacks like french fries and popcorn, paper bags are perfect for keeping your food fresh and protected. To get the most out of your paper bags, choose recycled materials and consider lining them with greaseproof paper for greasy foods.

For hot items, ventilation holes will help prevent condensation. By using paper bags strategically, takeaway businesses can offer eco-friendly packaging that keeps their food fresh and customers happy.

3. Recycled Paperboard Containers

For takeaway businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact, recycled paperboard containers offer a fantastic solution. Made from reused paper materials, these containers are not only eco-friendly, but also surprisingly versatile. They’re readily available, affordable, and often come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different needs.

These containers can handle a wider range of items than paper bags. From hot and cold food to pre-made salads and even soups (with proper lining), recycled paperboard containers can keep your food fresh and secure during transport. Their sturdiness makes them ideal for items that need a bit more protection compared to a paper bag.

4. Plant-Based Containers

The future of sustainable packaging is looking bright, and plant-based containers are leading the charge! These innovative options are made from rapidly renewable resources like sugarcane pulp, bamboo, and even mushrooms. This makes them a guilt-free choice for takeaway businesses and environmentally conscious customers alike. Plant-based containers are typically biodegradable and compostable, leaving a minimal footprint on the planet.

But sustainability isn’t their only perk. Plant-based containers are surprisingly versatile and functional. They can handle a variety of temperatures, making them suitable for both hot and cold food. Some options are even leak-resistant, perfect for soups and saucy dishes.

For a truly unique twist, seaweed-based packaging is also emerging as a sustainable option. These containers are not only compostable, but also boast natural antimicrobial properties which can extend the shelf life of certain foods. With their impressive combination of eco-friendliness, functionality, and innovative materials, plant-based containers are sure to become a staple in the sustainable takeaway game.

5. Reusable Containers

For the ultimate eco-friendly approach, reusable takeaway containers are the clear winner. These containers are designed for multiple uses, significantly reducing the amount of waste generated from disposable packaging. While they require an initial investment, reusable containers offer a long-term solution for both businesses and environmentally conscious customers.

Made from durable materials like stainless steel, glass, or even silicone, reusable containers can withstand the wear and tear of repeated use. Many options are microwave and dishwasher safe, making them convenient for reheating leftovers.

By promoting reusable containers, takeaway businesses can significantly reduce their environmental impact and foster a culture of sustainability among their customers.

6. Minimal or No Packaging

Takeaway businesses can make a big difference in their environmental footprint by simply using less packaging. It’s not just about switching to eco-friendly options, but critically evaluating what packaging is truly necessary. Are you using multiple containers for a single item? Could some foods travel safely without any packaging at all?

Start by analysing your current practices. Are there opportunities to eliminate packaging entirely? Sturdy bakery items or thick-skinned fruits might not need any protection. Encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags for these situations. For on-the-go consumption, explore minimal packaging options like small paper wrappers for sandwiches or cones for ice cream. These provide a basic layer of protection while significantly reducing waste.

By embracing a “less is more” approach, takeaway businesses can create a more sustainable future for themselves and the planet.

Educating Customers on Recycling

Once you’ve chosen sustainable takeaway packaging, help your customers dispose of it responsibly!

Here are some ideas:

  • Informative Labels: Clearly mark your packaging with disposal instructions.
    Indicate if it’s recyclable, compostable, or made from recycled materials.
  • Website and Signage: Promote your commitment to sustainability on your website and with in-store signage.
    Let customers know what type of packaging you use and how to dispose of it correctly.

By choosing sustainable takeaway packaging, you’re not just helping the environment, you’re also potentially helping your business.
Many local authorities recognise businesses that prioritise recycling and sustainable practices. Awards and recognition can come your way!

Bonus Tip: Encourage customers to bring their own reusable containers whenever possible.

Offer a discount for those who do!

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