As the demand of the global food trade grows and shifts, so too do the packages used to store food products. Today, there is growing pressure for companies to introduce sustainable packages, replacing the single-use plastic that has dominated the packaging industry for years.

The current state of food packaging

Plastic packaging has been around since the 1950s and, today, almost everything we eat is packaged in some form of plastic. From resealable snack containers to clingfilm and vacuum-sealed meat packaging, the grocery aisles are full of single-use plastics. 

Once we are finished with the food inside, this plastic is thrown away almost immediately – with an enormous amount of it filling up landfills or being dumped in the ocean, causing serious environmental damage. 

Pollution is one of the biggest drivers in nature’s decline and has not only contributed to a world where a million species are threatened with extinction, but poses a genuine threat to human health as well. Hazardous chemicals used to create plastic products are leaked into the air and in the water we drink. As consumers become more aware of the danger that plastic poses, it is no wonder that they are looking to make more sustainably-minded purchases.

The move to more sustainable packaging

Did you know that the food packaging industry is the second most common type of rubbish found during beach clean-up operations and just one plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose? Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that plastic waste results in as much as $13 billion worth of financial damage to marine ecosystems every year. The problem with plastic is urgent. 

According to a 2019 survey, as many as 64% of consumers in America and Britain believe that recyclable packaging is important and this shift by the public is helping to change the attitudes of big food-packing companies, who are starting to look for alternative solutions. 

In the UK, pressure is also mounting from the government and, following the Chancellor’s budget announcement, a plastic packing tax is expected to come into force from April 2022. This will mean that businesses whose products use less than 30% recycled material will be penalised and forced to pay £200 per tonne. 

A Focus on Restaurant Plastic

According to WRAP, 1.3 million tonnes of packaging and 0.6 million tonnes of other non-food waste are disposed of by the Hospitality and Food Industry in the UK every year. Add the waste generated from takeaway containers, cutlery and a significant cause of plastic pollution can be traced back to restaurants, takeaways, and cafes. 

In a report by Eunomia, Friends of the Earth detailed the sources and considerations around plastic waste in the UK, with the following interesting points. 

  • Friends of the Earth posit plastic water bottles and plastic utensils as two of the areas requiring urgent government action owing to the high prevalence of this waste on beaches.
  • Over 40 major companies, including the likes of Coca-Cola and M&S have become signatories to the UK Plastic Pact, pledging to reduce plastic pollution by 2025.
  • The ban on plastic straws poses a strong case for the extension of this to products like single-use plastic utensils.
  • Billions of on-the-go utensils are sold in the UK each year.

From a policy perspective, it is reasonable to expect government to evolve regulations to address many of these issues with the current use of plastic. Theresa May has vowed to do away with avoidable plastic by 2042. For restaurant and takeaway owners, this presents an exciting opportunity to pivot – pre-empting the change and asserting yourself as an enterprise of the future.

 

Image 1, Bonnie Bio

How to improve sustainability 

Although single-use plastics still dominate the market, a number of packaging companies, restaurants, and cafes are looking at different measures to improve the sustainability of their packaging.

Bonnie Bio has created an internationally certified range of alternative packaging solutions, removing the need for plastic and its damage to the environment. This range is made from cornstarch and all of our products are biodegradable, compostable, and carbon neutral. In other words, Bonnie Bio is kinder to the environment. 

Our range of different sized refuse and multi-purpose bags, straws, gloves, cutlery, and cling wrap deliver just like petroleum-based plastic, but decompose like paper within three months depending on environmental conditions. Our products look, feel, and deliver like traditional plastic, without the lengthy decomposition rate, making them the best of both worlds and for our planet!

Shop our range of certified compostable products as an alternative to plastic for the food industry – and make the move to sustainable alternatives today.