Eco-Friendly Packaging and Its Role in Restaurants

Nick Mirev
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    With the increased carbon and plastic pollution in the world, a lot of businesses want to do their part and reduce their footprint on the planet. That’s why eco-friendly packaging and sustainable eCommerce packaging are becoming popular alternatives for restaurants and other companies. These products are either compostable or biodegradable. As green policies are becoming a factor for consumers, business owners have even more incentive to abandon cheap single-use disposable items. Instead, they switch to alternatives or introduce recycling and waste reduction programs in their companies. In this article, we’ll share more information about the different types of packaging materials and restaurant supplies, what plastic alternatives for restaurants are available, and how to switch to them.

    What Packaging Materials Do Restaurants Use

    Restaurants often work with plastic wholesale suppliers and distributors of wholesale paper products as they need a wide variety of packaging materials and containers to run their operations. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main categories.


    Food service establishments and catering businesses use a variety of containers. Plastic containers are among the most popular ones. Their low price and large variety make them ideal for various things such as packaging takeout food or storing food leftovers in fridges. Styrofoam is also a frequently used material for containers. They are becoming less popular recently as they cannot be recycled and have a negative impact on the environment.


    Pizza boxes and cardboard boxes for baked goods are just two examples of restaurant supplies in that category. Their main application is related to takeout and deliveries. Most distributors of wholesale restaurant supplies have a variety of box sizes that are suitable for different dishes. 

    Bags and Wraps

    They are used to wrap burgers or other food. Aluminum foil is also a popular packaging item that helps meals stay warm during the delivery process. Naturally, most restaurants use plastic or paper bags for deliveries. One of the trends in the food and beverage industry is to integrate reusable bags or deliver food in boxes.

    Key takeaway: In the past decades, there has been a rise in the popularity of eco-friendly packaging solutions. Restaurants and other businesses can significantly reduce their ecological footprint by introducing such solutions. They can also help reduce costs and attract eco-conscious customers.
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    What Materials Is Eco-Friendly Packaging Made Of

    As the trend of eco-friendly restaurants is becoming more popular, restaurant managers have a wide array of packaging alternatives to choose from. Let’s briefly examine some of them. 

    1. Recyclable materials. That includes paper, plastic, and other materials that can easily be recycled to avoid extensive waste.
    2. Biodegradable materials. These eco-friendly packaging options break down easily in nature. Thus, they don’t pollute the environment. 
    3. Plant-based materials. Bamboo and other sustainably sourced materials can be used not just for packaging but also for utensils and tableware. 
    4. Metal and glass. Restaurants can use aluminum to wrap products. It’s highly recyclable and is popular also in the food manufacturing industry. The majority of canned food products come in aluminum or steel packaging. Glass containers are popular mostly for in-door service. Nevertheless, businesses can introduce glass recycling schemes even for deliveries.
    5. Cardboard and paperboard. They are still among the most used packaging solutions for restaurants and other businesses. In order to switch to eco-friendly packaging options, businesses should consider ordering biodegradable boxes or other paper goods.
    6. Fabric and natural fiber. Cotton food delivery bags can play a significant role in fast food restaurant delivery. These specialized bags are often insulated on the inside in order to ensure that the meal stays warm when it arrives at the address. 
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    How Restaurants Can Switch to Eco-Friendly Packaging

    Every business has different processes. That’s why there’s no universal formula for switching to green supplies or packaging solutions. However, here are a few steps that might help you with the process.

    1. Assess current packaging solutions. Check how much packaging your business uses and whether it can be reduced. When drafting a plan to go green, prioritize styrofoam and other unsustainable packaging.
    2. Research eco-friendly packaging options. Familiarize yourself with the market and the different solutions available. Decide which ones will answer your needs best. That way, the transition process will be easy and hassle-free.
    3. Calculate costs. Eco-friendly packaging options are usually more expensive than unsustainable ones. However, consider them to be an investment.
    4. Partner with suppliers. If you order wholesale packaging solutions, you can negotiate a favorable price. Additionally, if you choose a local distributor, that will further reduce your ecological footprint as it reduces transportation emissions and costs.
    5. Educate the staff. Make sure all waiters and other team members are aware of your business’s eco-friendly goals.
    6. Change communication with customers. Make sure your menus, website, and social media content showcase your eco-friendly efforts. That can boost the social media marketing for restaurants.
    7. Adapt. As a lot of businesses are switching to environmentally friendly options, new and modern solutions emerge constantly. Make sure you reassess your effectiveness and make adjustments in order to further decrease your ecological footprint.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Eco-Friendly Packaging

    Are you looking for ways to make your restaurant more environmentally friendly? Or maybe you’re interested in eco-friendly packaging for another business? Either way, you need help along this journey. Below we’ve answered some of the popular questions on the subject.

    What Are the Differences between Biodegradable and Compostable Materials?

    Even though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, biodegradable and compostable mean different things in the context of eco-friendly packaging. Let’s briefly summarize the main differences.

    1. Biodegradable products break down into natural substances over time. Even if released into the environment, they will naturally break down. On the other hand, compostable products need certain conditions in order to break down. 
    2. Compostable packaging is often decomposed in industrial facilities where conditions such as humidity and temperature are controlled and optimal. Biodegradable goods can break down in the soil or a marine environment.
    3. There are more regulations and criteria that need to be met for a product to be considered compostable.

    What Other Sustainable Practices Can Restaurants Integrate?

    There are various ways for a restaurant to become more eco-friendly. Using sustainable packaging is just one of them. Here are a few others.

    1. Buying in bulk. By buying large quantities from wholesale businesses, a restaurant can reduce its carbon and plastic footprint. Furthermore, they can benefit from the wholesale prices of various products. Businesses should also find suppliers that follow the best practices and sustainability requirements for suppliers. 
    2. Reusable cutlery and tableware. Even fast food restaurants and other businesses that are usually associated with using disposable cutlery can incorporate reusable ones. They might be a bit less convenient for the customers, but they can help a company reduce the cost of goods sold
    3. Follow the latest sustainable restaurant industry trends. By establishing green restaurant practices, your business can attract new eco-conscious customers. That means it can even be used to enhance a restaurant’s marketing goals.

    What Are the Benefits of Eco-Friendly Packaging?

    They can have a positive impact on the environment and businesses alike. It helps with branding and marketing efforts as more and more customers choose businesses that actively try to reduce their footprint on the environment. 

    Another benefit of using biodegradable packaging in eco-friendly restaurants is that it helps with current and future regulatory requirements. Governments are expected to constantly introduce new legislation related to green policies. Integrating restaurant composting programs and using eco-friendly materials means you’ll be ready for these laws and regulations.

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