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Why Recyclable Takeaway Packaging is a Good Move for Your Business

In a day and age where many people are living life in the fast lane and constantly on-the-go, the convenience of takeaway food is unmatched. From established takeaway stores to mobile food trucks, the options for takeaway food are plentiful throughout the majority of the country and people are more than happy to keep these in business in return for tasty and convenient food.

Recyclable takeaway food containers

Why is Recyclable Hospitality Packaging Important?

Waste is unavoidable when it comes to takeaway packaging, but that’s not to say that it can’t be sustainable and made to have less of a negative impact on the environment. Statistics estimate that, in the UK, 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging enter the consumer market every year, and while 46% of plastic food packaging is collected for recycling, much of it isn’t actually recyclable.

As such, the remaining option is to send it to landfill, which is the least ideal option. In order to avoid this, many hospitality businesses are starting to take accountability and rethink the packaging they use for the food they produce and sell to customers.

Whilst you can’t control if customers litter, put recyclable packaging in with generic waste or do actually dispose of it properly, you are at least giving them the opportunity to dispose of it responsibly and ensure it gets recycled.

Different Types of Recyclable Packaging

There are many materials used in the food-to-go industry that can’t be recycled, such as polystyrene foam containers, black plastic containers, plastic bags and plastic utensils, but what materials can be recycled? The list below showcases some other common types of takeaway packaging that can be disposed of responsibly.


Used to keep food hot, aluminium containers that are sealed with cardboard lids are not only a type of leak-free, insulating container, but they are also recyclable. The only stipulation, however, is that they must be clean in order to be recyclable.

There should be no leftover food, sauce or grease left in these containers before they are disposed of, hence they should be washed before going to be recycled.

Paper & Card

Paper and card are both materials known for being easy to recycle, on top of this many types of paper and card packaging are even made from previously recycled materials in the first place. Some are also biodegradable, depending on what food they’ve been in contact with and whether they’ve been contaminated.

On the subject of contamination, it’s important to note that paper and card cannot be recycled if they are soaked with too much grease or sauce. As such, if opting to use paper and/or card containers, then you should consider what types of food you put in these with this in mind. Regardless, paper and card are still much less toxic than other materials when being alternatively disposed of if recycling is not feasible.


There are many eco alternatives to plastic packaging that are being produced to serve takeaway food in, many of which can also be composted. For example, clean wooden cutlery, as opposed to plastic cutlery, or Bioflute boxes - a compostable alternative to plastic containers.

These are great for customers who partake in at-home composting. Similarly, these materials are also biodegradable, so have less of a damaging impact on the environment even when they’re not recycled.

The Benefits of Switching to Recyclable Fast Food Packaging

Beat the ban on certain materials

In the UK, new laws have been brought into place banning the use of certain materials within food packaging. For example, in Scotland and England there has been a ban on both polystyrene containers and single-use plastic (e.g. disposable cutlery and plastic straws).

We wouldn’t be shocked if in a few years time there is talk of a ban on other forms of packaging, such as the non-recyclable black plastic containers. By switching to recyclable packaging now, then you’ll be beating the ban on any future materials that you may otherwise be already using.

Promote green practices

As we’ve previously mentioned, you can’t control how your customers dispose of their packaging after finishing their food, however by using responsible packaging you will be promoting green practices and are more likely to encourage customers to recycle their waste if they don’t already do so.

You could even actively encourage customers to do so by advertising that you are using recyclable materials. Many people won’t recycle something if they aren’t sure whether it can be recycled or not, so by printing the recycling logo onto your packaging or advertising at your storefront and/or online that you use recyclable materials, then they are much more likely to dispose of them responsibly.

Alternatively, you could set up an incentive scheme, whereby if customers bring back their recyclable waste for you to dispose of (ensuring that it is recycled responsibly), then they could get a discount, loyalty points or a free item.

Implementing a rewarding recycling scheme in this way not only promotes green practices both within your business and amongst your customer base, but customers are more likely to buy from you again and keep coming back!

Attract new customers

Many individuals are eco-conscious and will consider sustainability as a key factor within their decision making in various aspects of their everyday life - such as their food choices. In order to reduce their own carbon footprint and help minimise negative human impacts on the environment, such individuals will often favour sustainable businesses over uncaring ones.

In using recyclable materials, you could potentially attract a new and loyal customer base who will not only support your business but may recommend you to other like-minded individuals.

Decrease your carbon footprint

In modern times, there is immense societal pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. Ideally, you should step back and look at all the areas in your business operations that can be addressed to reduce this, however one way that is sure to do so is by rethinking the materials you use in your packaging.

Packaging that has been made from recycled materials will have consumed less energy and water to have been produced than freshly made materials require; similarly, they also reduce the depletion of virgin resources. This ultimately mitigates the number of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. Investing in such materials, then, reduces your business’ contribution to these gases.

As for packaging that can be recycled, its environmental impact after it’s been used will be lower than non-recyclable materials. Recycling helps reduce energy consumption and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which it also reduces further by repurposing materials rather than allowing them to degrade and release emissions into the atmosphere.

Advertise yourself as a green business

By implementing sustainable practices into your business, such as through the use of sustainable takeaway packaging, you can promote yourself as a green business. This can be beneficial in a number of ways.

Firstly, as we’ve already mentioned, this can help you to attract new customers who are eco-conscious, expanding your overall customer base. Similarly, this can help you attract and retain employees; nowadays, many people prefer to work for employers that operate according to sustainable principles that match their own values.

By improving your brand image in this way, you may also have an edge over local competitors who don’t necessarily use sustainable packaging, or by better competing with those who do!

Get in Touch

So, are you ready to make the switch to sustainable takeaway packaging? Look to us here at Marshall Wilson to source your new supplies.

We offer a range of eco-friendly food packaging products, from cup carriers and Bioflute boxes to burger boxes and pizza boxes. Does your business target a more niche offering? Not to worry, as we also offer takeaway coffee cups and disposable ice cream tubs, amongst other items.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about the products we supply and discuss how we can meet your requirements.

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