The year 2019 was perfectly normal for all, including the hotel and restaurant business. But one fine dawn of 2020 unmasked itself, and everything was masked forever. The onset of a dreaded pandemic broke out and shook the world completely. The pandemic severely hit businesses in all sectors. Out of all, the most hit ones were the food, beverage, and hotel industries. Continuous lockdowns in the country put a full stop to people going out to socialise or dine out.
But as it is rightly said, sometimes adversity shows people the right pathway towards success, and something similar happened with all the businesses too. The rough times of the pandemic paved newer ways to develop and grow. Restaurants started with aggressive home delivery options and take away counters. But while doing this, a significant concern for small and big restaurants was food packaging, which created much waste. To solve the puzzle, let's answer the question, what is eco-friendly packaging?
The restaurants with only takeaway and home delivery options at hand, the packaging that was normally used were plastic pouches and boxes, which created a lot of waste. To overcome this problem, the restaurateurs and hotel owners shifted their focus to sustainable kitchen products.
Social responsibility towards nature and society being the top priority led to the discovery of eco-friendly packaging solutions. Before we check the sustainable options for packaging, let’s check out why restaurants need to look out for these products in the first place.
The total waste collected in a tier 2 city is of this packaging waste, mainly used to wrap, roll, or hold food by restaurants and hotels. Thus it becomes the social responsibility of the eateries to reduce this waste to the minimum wherever possible.
Yes, a simple packaging box too can create a brand image in the minds of your customers. The sturdiness, look, quality, and recyclability together build an identity for your brand. The customers understand that your brand is conscious of preserving nature, which forms a good connection with the brand.
As many might think, picking environment-friendly packaging products will add to the load on inventory. But it isn’t the truth; you can search and narrow down on endless sustainable packaging products that shall not burn your pockets. Instead of importing these materials, it’s profitable to look out for manufacturers who locally produce such packaging material at low costs. Tying up with them for the long term will cut the price even more.
Now let’s check some innovative and useful popular eco-friendly products.
1. Compostable Teacups
May it be a regular working day at the office or a work from home scenario, the cups of coffee or tea we have cannot be counted for sure.
So when it comes to packaging beverages for restaurant owners, the best way to pack them is by using compostable cups. These cups are made from organic and natural substances, making them 100% eco-friendly.
2. Wheat Straws
A small straw can add to a lot of wastage too. If you haven’t yet thought of this, it’s high time you must. When you deliver juice to the customer, add in these eco-friendly straws manufactured from wheat grains. These are 100% biodegradable. In this way, you can surely reduce tonnes of waste accumulated every day in the country.
3. Edible Cutlery
Yes, you read that right, a popular new product in eco-friendly packaging solutions is edible cutlery. A few innovative entrepreneurs in India are manufacturing these edible cutlery items from Sorghum. These products can be consumed or reused too. They have a long shelf life and are completely preservative-free.
4. Paper boxes
Increase in demand for home delivery of foods, every restaurant has to stock up the inventories with packaging materials. Sturdy paper boxes and bowls with lids can hold food and also keep them fresh up to a certain number of hours. One can utilise these boxes and bowls for branding the restaurant too. Decorative and customised eco-friendly packaging boxes are picking up the trend in the restaurant world.
5. Corn-based utilities
The packaging material that holds the food but the carry bag that carries all of them together can be substituted with compostable material. The corn-based utilities are gaining limelight with the corn starch carry bags and pouches, making them an eco-friendly package option.
6. Cloth Napkins
It’s not a packaging material, to be precise, but napkins are most widely used in the hospitality industry all over the globe and accompany every delivery of packaged food. Thus, to reduce this waste, one can use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused. These napkins can be made from any cloth like cotton, khadi, or other organic material. The napkins you supply with your food can have a logo embroidered or printed over them. The cloth napkins can also do the work of developing your brand identity.
Another basic and commonly used material for packaging can be glass or steel boxes and jars. While ordering the food, you can pre-inform the customers to carry their own boxes to take the food from your restaurant. This shall be effective in saving packaging costs and reducing packaging waste too.
Now that we have the best environmentally friendly packaging solutions, we must see the aspects that a restaurant owner needs to consider before picking the right ones.
When people read a box marked as “biodegradable”, they simply throw it away. That isn’t the way to dispose of it. It needs the proper segregation and environment to decompose the material naturally. Thus, cross-checking on the materials used in your packaging products will ensure their compostability.
Understanding this is relatively easy for entrepreneurs. Plastics like polypropylene or polyethylene are the most common ones. Polypropylene material keeps the food warmer than the other choices. The recyclable products should clearly state the recycling number or code where the customer can see it.
The reusing option is considered to be the best for opting for a sustainable product for your restaurant. Many restaurants have come up with this novel idea of delivering food in a reusable container. The customers can get them back to the restaurant to avail discounts and offers. This increases the sales and dynamically keeps the restaurant eco-friendly.
Now that you've learned the various eco-friendly products for your restaurant's food packaging, let's check some other key aspects that can make your restaurant organic and eco-friendly.
- Set a seasonal menu
- Shop from local businesses
- Buy sustainable equipment
- Maintain natural light and air ventilation in the restaurant to avoid excessive energy consumption
- Reduce the usage of paper napkins
- Use washable serving utilities
- Monitor and maintain all the perishables
- Preserve water and other natural resources
- Promote and publicise your good initiatives
Using and promoting the use of sustainable kitchen products will reduce your overheads considerably. But more than that, it will portray you and your brand as socially responsible. By embracing these practices, you can increase sales and win over the hearts of many. So it’s time to repay your debts to Mother Earth by going green.
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Q. What is an alternative to plastic packaging?
Ans. The use of eco-friendly products like paper bags, organic boxes, corn products, cane products, etc., are alternatives to plastics.
Q. What is the most environment-friendly food packaging?
Ans. Plant-based compostable and biodegradable products are considered to be the most environment-friendly ones available in the market today.
Q. What type of packaging is environmentally friendly?
Ans. Plant-based plastics, Bioplastics, recycled paper, or corn-based products are environmentally friendly options.
Q. Is paper more eco-friendly than plastic?
Ans. Paper is definitely more biodegradable than plastic. It should be recycled in a proper way to decompose it faster. Plastics take hundreds of years to decompose.