Switching from single-use Styrofoam containers and plastic bags to more eco-friendly disposables is an easy way for your business to reduce its environmental impact while appealing to your customers. Whether you're looking for eco-friendly materials to align with your sustainable menu or to comply with new regulations, there is an eco-friendly food packaging solution for you!
From reusable options to recycled plastic and paper materials or completely plant-based materials, there is a greener option that will suit every business's needs.
PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is a strong, lightweight, and clear plastic that does not react with food products, making it a popular and cost-effective option for packaging foods and beverages. Plus, because of its ability to be recycled multiple times to create new products, PET plastic is an energy-efficient plastic and many food containers are often made with recycled content.
PLA (polylactic acid) plastic is a thermoplastic typically made from the sugars in corn, cassava, or sugarcane. The FDA recognizes it as a food safe packaging material. It is typically used to create eco-friendly containers and cups for food and beverages, and it is also used as a liner in paper hot cups and containers to keep the paper from getting soggy.
Sugarcane / bagasse is a plant-based, tree-free, renewable material made from the waste of sugarcane plants leftover after the sugar has been extracted. This fibrous, pulpy material is used to create durable containers that appeal to environmentally conscious consumers and requires much less energy to produce than plastic products.
Poly-coated paper containers consist of environmentally friendly, recyclable kraft paper, which is made from renewable resources. They feature added durability from a poly coating to allow you to package a wider variety of foods in both hot and cold applications.
Mineral-filled polypropylene contains up to 40% natural mineral content, which effectively reduces the amount of plastic used to manufacture each container.
Reusable polypropylene take-out containers are a great way to cut down on disposable costs and reduce waste in universities, cafeterias, retirement communities, and other establishments where many of the same guests frequently return to dine. These can also be great for restaurants looking to implement a rewards program for loyal, conscious consumers. For example, customers can purchase a container upfront and with every time they exchange their used container for a clean one, they receive a discount on their meal.
Molded pulp is made from a variety of recycled raw materials, such as paper or cardboard. Pulp fiber is used to create egg and produce cartons, carryout containers, and foodservice trays.
If you are choosing to make the switch to more eco-friendly containers for your take-out service, it is also wise to consider switching other items involved in your delivery system to keep your brand consistent to consumers. Several eco-friendly products are available to help you replace single-use plastic bags in your establishment for good.
Paper bags are a popular and durable eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags. They are made from renewable resources and may even be made from recycled paper, which will further improve your sustainability practices!
Reusable plastic bags are a great option for businesses looking to transition to more earth-friendly options without compromising on the durability or flexibility of traditional plastic bags. Plus, reusable plastic bags are easy to clean with a sanitary wipe.
Skip the bags altogether with take-out boxes! Combining the convenience of carrying handles with the durability of a paperboard construction, these allow you cut down on the amount of disposable items needed for your take-out service. These boxes feature an easy-to-assemble, 1-piece design with a variety of closure styles to best fit your needs. Plus, they come in a variety of sizes and prints or solid colors to accommodate various foods on your menu. They are especially great for boxed lunches, fried foods, and baked goods.
Styrofoam is a trademarked material that is commonly used to classify all types of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam products. Polystyrene products are recyclable and are marked with the recyclable number "6". However, these products are very rarely actually recycled. Few local governments accept Styrofoam products in curbside recycling bins, and there are few recycling centers that accept and recycle Styrofoam because it can be a difficult and costly process. As a result, Styrofoam has become a major environmental problem for a few reasons:
While Styrofoam, or foamed polystyrene, may be a cost-effective solution for your take-out service, it is it is largely detrimental to the environment. Many state and local governments have already proposed bans against single-use Styrofoam containers. As the mandates continue to be passed nationwide, it may be helpful to reduce your dependency on these products now to stay ahead of the trend. Thankfully, there are several eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives at a range of price points that can help reduce your business's carbon footprint and appeal to a wider customer base.
In addition to understanding eco-friendly terms like biodegradable and compostable, many other "green" terms exist that are used to market eco-friendly products. Familiarize yourself with what they mean so that you can make the most informed purchase for your business.
Bioplastics: plastic materials that are produced from renewable, natural sources, which are often times plant-derived. The most common bioplastics are starch-based, which can be sourced from cornstarch or potato starch, and cellulose-based, which can be sourced from trees or straw.
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified: wood- and paper-based products bearing the FSC label are sourced from responsibly managed forests. This certification ensures that forestry operations support long-term ecological, social, and economic objectives by setting strict, sustainable forest management standards.
Post-Consumer Recycled Content: materials that have completed their life cycle as a consumer item and are diverted from landfills to be used to create other items.
Pre-Consumer Recycled Content: materials that are reclaimed waste or excess products from a manufacturing process that are reused in later productions to create the same material. Pre-consumer recycled content can also be referred to as post-industrial recycled content.
Recycled Content: the total percentage of recycled material in a product, including pre-consumer and post-consumer materials.