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How Takeaways can move away from Plastic Packaging

Friday, August 10, 2018


With campaigns such as #PlasticFreeJuly and the Zero Waste Week beginning in September, it's time to bring our awareness back to the environmental impact we have on our planet. In a recent study, National Geographic found that there are currently 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the world’s oceans with 269,000 tons of this floating on the surface. Increasingly, a greater number of companies are becoming interested in more environmentally-friendly packaging as a result of an increased consumer demand. In fact, a study by Unilever revealed that a third of consumers are now choosing to buy from retailers they believe are doing their part for social or environmental good. And more than 20% of people from the study stated that they would be more likely to purchase from a brand if their packaging and marketing message was clear about their sustainability commitment.  This is a brilliant opportunity for takeaway companies to promote their dedication to the environmental cause with just a simple switch of packaging. We’ve rounded up a list of four ways that takeaways can get on board with the eco-friendly trend and appeal to this ever more conscious consumer.

  1. Reusable cups

A study estimated that 2.5bn takeaway coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK which most are impossible to recycle. There is an opportunity for takeaway companies to reduce their plastic cost product and also have an impact. Ranging from Pret and Costa giving customers a discount when using a reusable cup and Starbucks starting to charge for the use of disposable cups, the new schemes have been received positively by conscientious customers. By encouraging customers with these incentives and selling their own branded reusable cups, retailers are providing another opportunity to increase sales and diversify income in a competitive industry.

2. Plastic-free and recyclable packaging

An easy way to reduce your environmental impact is by making packaging widely recyclable. More and more brands are looking for alternatives to using single-use plastic; instead of turning to more natural alternatives such as cardboard or biodegradable and compostable containers. An example of a company doing this well is Graze. Graze’s weekly subscription box is made from materials sourced in sustainable forests, it’s 100% biodegradable and 100% recyclable. Another brand having a positive impact is SNACT, which packs its bars in plastic-free compostable packaging and also recently launched a range using fruit that would otherwise go to waste.

3. Recycled and edible packaging

If you forget your reusable cup, it can be frustrating to have to buy a plastic bottle and often there aren’t a lot of alternatives. Carton & Co, however, has recently launched still and sparkling water in aluminium cans that are made from 68% recycled materials. These cans can now be found in restaurants and supermarkets and provide an alternative to those needing a drink but wanting to avoid traditional plastic bottles. By giving the customer more eco-friendly options, supermarkets and takeaways can show their commitment to finding more sustainable options and draw in a new kind of conscious consumer.Another innovation is edible packaging. Biotrem, a tableware production company, recently made headlines with its edible wheat bran plates. Advertising its tableware as a sustainable, plant-based resource, this could be a new way for takeaways to package and serve their food.It’s also food for thought for takeaway providers to look into alternatives to plastic cutlery.  The use of plastic cutlery, straws and cups has recently been highly scrutinised and consequently, a shift is underway towards more sustainable alternatives such as wooden utensils.

4. Biodegradable and compostable materials

Finally, a trend that we have noticed more recently is biodegradable packaging.   Especially in products that are usually manufactured with plastic, companies will focus on finding materials that help to reduce waste and contribute to a healthier environment. For example the brand Teapigs. They sell a wide range of bagged and loose leaf teas and as well as having very cute packaging, they are 100% plant-based and their tea temples are biodegradable! The takeaway industry is also making changes. In fact, JustEat has recently been trialling its seaweed-based sauce sachets as an effort to encourage the takeaway industry to look into more sustainable single-use sauce packets. Other things to consider are biodegradable carrier bags or compostable coffee filters.

You can read more about ways to go green in the kitchen here.

If you would like to hear more about disruption in the industry, our Kafoodle team will be present at the Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo this year, you’ll find us on stand 1880. Come and say hi!

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