compostable takeout packaging, compostable takeout boxes, compostable takeout containers, compostable takeout bags, compostable takeaway packaging, compostable takeaway boxes

Exploring the types of compostable takeout packaging

Arguably, it has never been easier for restaurants to move away from single-use plastics and adopt sustainable packaging alternatives. Recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable takeout packaging options have become more accessible and affordable across the food industry. 

Compostable takeout packaging is generally made from biodegradable materials, such as corn starch, sugarcane, or other plant-based sources. It is specifically designed to break down into nutrient-rich compost, leaving no environmentally damaging residue behind. 

Notably, the compostable foodservice packaging market is estimated to reach $29.1 billion by 2032. Driving factors behind this growth include rising environmental concern around single-use plastics, increased demand for sustainable packaging solutions, and innovations in technology. 

In order to get the most out of their compostable takeout packaging, restaurant owners will have to consider which materials are best suited to the forms of food they serve. 

The benefits of switching to compostable takeout containers

Whether it is purchased from a grocery store, farmers market, or through an online meal delivery service, your food is likely to arrive packaged. Almost all the food purchased by consumers today is packaged. 

While modern takeaway packaging makes food delivery safe, reliable, and hygienic, the majority of it is designed to be single-use. As a result, it often ends up in landfills or polluting local waterways. This is why many businesses are choosing to invest in sustainable materials that have minimal impact on the environment. 

Compostable takeout packaging is made from renewable resources instead of fossil fuels, which reduces the environmental impact associated with traditional plastics. More so, it can be processed back into organic matter in the right composting environment. This means these takeout containers can be diverted from landfills and be used to create nutrient-rich compost. 

Beyond this, statistics show 45% of consumers prefer to engage with environmentally responsible brands, such as those that offer eco-friendly food packaging solutions. Out of these consumers, 44 percent claimed that they would rather settle with a brand that supports recycling and food waste reduction.

Therefore, investing in sustainable packaging solutions can help strengthen brand reputation and create a positive customer experience. 

In the long run, compostable takeout packaging may help businesses save money. While the initial investment may be more expensive than that of traditional plastics, the lightweight nature of sustainable materials means they cost less to ship. 

compostable takeout packaging, compostable takeout boxes, compostable takeout containers, compostable takeout bags, compostable takeaway packaging, compostable takeaway boxes

Compostable takeout packaging: Understanding the materials 

It’s important to note that compostable packaging can be made from three types of materials:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Bioplastics

Bioplastics are essentially plastic materials made from renewable sources, such as vegetable oils and fats, corn starch, straw, wood chips, saw dust, and even recycled food waste. These materials are biodegradable, which means they are able to break down naturally. 

Bioplastics, such as polylactic acid (PLA) help reduce the reliance on fossil fuels for plastic production. PLA is a compostable thermoplastic that is carbon neutral, edible, and biodegradable. Furthermore, it disintegrates completely when it breaks down rather than crumbling into harmful microplastics. 

More so, PLA as a bioplastic takes 65% less energy to produce than traditional plastic and generates 68% fewer greenhouse gases.

compostable takeout packaging, compostable takeout boxes, compostable takeout containers, compostable takeout bags, compostable takeaway packaging, compostable takeaway boxes

What types of compostable takeout containers are available?

Due to technological advancements and the introduction of several sustainable materials, restaurants have several packaging options to choose from.

Bagasse containers, also known as sugarcane containers, are common in the food industry. The material can biodegrade within 12 weeks and be mixed with soil to provide nutrients to plants and the surrounding ecosystem. As sugarcane bagasse is the main by-product of the cane sugar industry, the containers require very little energy to produce, helping to reduce a restaurant’s carbon footprint.

It also has no smell of its own, meaning it does not affect the odour or flavour of the food contained inside. More so, it is naturally grease and oil resistant and can hold liquids. These containers can hold both hot and cold foods, however, once the temperature exceeds 95°C (203°F), the packaging may lose strength.

Mushroom packaging is made using the vegetative part of mushrooms, which is known as mycelium. This is often used alongside other agricultural byproducts such as corn stalks and hemp hurds, making it compostable.

Mycelium is an innovative packaging material that boasts the same characteristics as polystyrene. It is lightweight, easy to mould, and simple to produce. Notably, mycelium is cost-competitive with polystyrene foam, which means it is commonly used as a replacement for when styrofoam is typically used. 

Mushroom packaging has several advantages, as it is water and flame resistant. However, while mushroom containers are a high-performing, cost-competitive, and insulating protective packaging solution, they can decompose within a few weeks. 

Therefore, businesses may have to place packaging orders more regularly than with other materials. That said, buying small volumes instead of buying in bulk may help alleviate this problem.

Another alternative is bamboo packaging, which is made from bamboo pulp. The manufacturing of these packaging materials begins with the harvesting of bamboo plants. The bamboo is cut into smaller chips, while unwanted particles or “sawdust” is removed from the bamboo chips. These chips are then washed and cleaned in preparation for the next step of processing. This includes transferring them to a pulping machine to be converted into bamboo pulp. 

The bamboo pulp is then washed and screened to remove any crude residue, dust, and sand. Some manufacturers choose to bleach the bamboo pulp to increase its whiteness for custom printing and help improve its strength. The pulp is then dried in sheets and prepared for printing. 

Notably, bamboo products have grown immensely in popularity, with the market projected to be worth USD 12.4 billion by 2032. Packaging made from bamboo is environmentally friendly, compostable and helps reduce packaging waste. It is a strong and durable material that can contain hot and cold foods and liquids.

Opting for compostable takeaway packaging is a proactive step towards reducing plastic waste and the environmental impact of your business. Compostable packaging may have its pros and cons, but the material is one of the most environmentally friendly solutions currently available.