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If you’re in the business of food delivery, you know packaging plays a crucial role in ensuring a positive customer experience.
If the food isn’t packaged correctly, it can spill, compromise the integrity of the meal, and leave the customer disappointed and unlikely to order from you again.
Recent restaurant trends show more and more customers are interested in restaurants that use biodegradable packaging that protects the environment.
Finding the right food packaging for your business can go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at the main eco-friendly food delivery packaging solutions on the market and how to choose the best one according to your needs.
'Delivery' vs takeout packaging
In the world of q-commerce and food delivery apps, definitions often get blurred.
What's the difference between the packaging of a burger shop operating out of a dark site, and the bakery packaging of a bakery with a storefront and foot traffic?
The answer is: not much.
This packaging needs to be easy to carry, keep the food safe, and, as you'll see, sustainable.
So whether you're starting a small cake business from your home, or selling tacos from a food truck, your delivery and takeout packaging must tick the eco-friendly boxes.
5 Best Eco-Friendly Food Delivery Packaging Solutions
1. Biodegradable packaging
Biodegradable packaging refers to packaging made of materials that break down in the environment over time. Their degradation, albeit slow, results from naturally occurring microorganisms like fungi or bacteria.
Usually, biodegradable packaging decomposes in up to 6 months, a clear improvement from regular plastic, which can take up to hundreds of years.
However, even some biodegradable plastic disintegrates into small fragments of plastic, which can still damage the environment.
That doesn’t mean biodegradable packaging is a bad choice for your food business.
As long as you ensure that the packaging provider sells truly biodegradable packaging that will break down quickly, leaving no harmful chemicals behind, you can safely use this packaging at your restaurant.
2. Compostable packaging
Compared to biodegradable packaging, compostable packaging is exclusively made of organic matter (such as sugarcane or cornstarch).
When these organic elements degrade in the environment, they only leave behind residues like fertilizer, which are beneficial to the soil.
One thing you must keep in mind about compostable packaging is that it breaks down in compost environments like food waste bins. If disposed of properly, it should break down in about 180 days.
In terms of food delivery packaging solutions, compostable is widely regarded as better than biodegradable because it’s much kinder to our environment.
The plant-based materials just go back to the earth. Not to mention that the manufacturing process of compostable packaging requires less energy and water and generates fewer greenhouse emissions.
3. Recyclable containers
One of the leading restaurant sustainability practices you can implement as a restaurant owner is the use of recyclable food packaging.
As the name suggests, this eco-friendly packaging can be processed and then reused.
You can use recyclable containers made of paper, plastic, metal, or even glass.
Recyclable paper pulp products are commonly seen in bakery and cupcake packaging
However, recyclable paper is one of the most common types of packaging in the food and beverage industry.
The “catch,” if you will, is that this type of packaging must be adequately separated, sorted, and then recycled to impact the environment positively.
All recyclable packaging you use must also be marked as such, so your customers know if they can recycle it or not.
4. FSC-certified packaging
This type of packaging is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which guarantees that all the materials used to create it were extracted responsibly. The FSC is a nonprofit organization in charge of creating and upholding responsible forest management principles.
Many countries are part of this organization, whose goal is to responsibly produce wood and paper materials. Thus, they protect the forests, water, wildlife, and plants and prevent the use of chemicals in packaging.
There are three types of FSC certifications that come with their own seen on packaging: FSC 100%, FSC Mix, and FSC Recycled Label.
The FSC 100% label means the packaging is made from 100% virgin materials extracted from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The FSC Mix label points to packaging made up of a mix of recycled material and/or FSC virgin fiber.
Finally, the FSC Recycled label tells you that the packaging is made from 100% recycled fiber.
FSC-certified packaging could be an excellent choice for your restaurant if you’re committed to sustainability. You can also use FSC-certified paper to print your restaurant menu and further your eco-friendly initiatives.
5. Reusable food containers
Finally, we end this list of food delivery packaging solutions with food packaging you can use repeatedly. This initiative aims to pair reusability with sustainability to help preserve the environment.
The main downside of this type of food packaging is that it’s not really suitable for delivery. While you could technically use reusable containers, you would have to get them back from your customers.
Customers will often choose convenience over sustainability, so implementing this would be a real challenge.
However, you could initiate a Bring Your Own Container option for pickup.
This is already a popular option in coffee shops like Starbucks, where customers are encouraged to bring their own to-go cup.
Some smaller retailers even build their entire stores around the concept of refilling your own containers.
To incentivize customers to bring reusable containers for their food, you can also provide a 5% discount each time they do.
How to Promote Your Eco-Friendly Food Packaging
If you’re going to start using eco-friendly, sustainable food packaging at your restaurant, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops.
Here are a couple of ideas on marketing your food packaging to let customers know you care about the environment:
Post it on your website.
Your website should act as a virtual billboard for your restaurant.
Add a section about your eco-friendly food packaging on your homepage and send users to a dedicated landing page to learn more.
Share the news on social media.
Create a dedicated post announcing your switch to eco-friendly food packaging and pin it to the top of your Facebook page. Include a link to your website, where they can read more about your initiative. Create separate posts for the rest of your restaurant's social media platforms.
Send an email blast.
Your subscribers will be thrilled to find out you’re now using eco-friendly food packaging. Let them know in a newsletter detailing the effort.
Using eco-friendly food delivery packaging solutions reduces the amount of waste you produce as a restaurant.
Additionally, you contribute to the health and safety of the environment by eliminating packaging that contains toxic materials and decreasing your carbon footprint at the same time.
These measures will shine a positive light on your restaurant, improve your brand image, attract new customers, and secure your regulars' loyalty.
If you want to start implementing more eco-friendly food delivery packing solutions at your restaurant but don’t know where to start, check out these food and takeaway packaging options.