Eco Friendly Packaging Materials for Food (Compostable & Biodegradable)

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: October 12, 2021
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Sustainable food packaging is an essential way of addressing environmental footprint on the international scene.

Nowadays, businesses are improvising with new tactics of designing environmentally preferable materials for food packaging. It’s a nice move, to say the least!

Utterly important, the use of these materials communicates the value of having a greener environment. And this calls for a switch from plastic bags and single-use Styrofoam containers to more eco-friendly disposables.

The recent statistics show that consumer food packaging is the biggest culprit to paper and plastic waste, accounting for 25 percent of all waste in bins and landfills.

We all need to overlook this key issue. 

Are you on the hunt for eco-friendly packaging materials for food ?

Probably you aim to comply with new regulations or suit your sustainable menu. Either way, we’ve got a solution for you!

What are Eco Friendly Packaging Materials for Food?

Poly-coated Kraft Paper

Kraft paper offers eco friendly packaging in the food industry.

The poly-coated paper, also known as brown paper, consists of renewable resources, making it recyclable.

Derived from the German word Kraft, this material means strength, resistance, and effectiveness.

The fact that Kraft paper container is made of wood pulp makes it possess a brown color. 

It’s also coarse and harsh in texture. The added durability feature allows you to pack plenty of foods as per your desire. Whether you want hot or cold applications, the paper will excel without impacting the environment negatively. 

As we know, the material (wood pulp) is often plant-based, so it’s sustainable and kind to the environment. Most companies are employing this type of packaging in the quest to keep a green planet.

In fact, this type is not only recyclable but also compostable. 

Environmentalists say that this eco-friendly packaging is appealing to eco-conscious consumers. 

What we like

  • Grease-leak-resistant, make them sturdy to hold up to gravies, oils, and sauces.
  • Recyclable and compostable
  • Coarse texture 
  • The brown color contains no toxic dyes
  • Breathable to allow out moisture and steam out, preventing from getting soggy
  • Perfect for both hot and cold applications

What we don’t like

  • Other poly coating papers aren’t derived from sustainably managed forests.

PET Plastic Containers

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is another sustainable type of packaging.

The material is lightweight, strong, safe, and flexible. Alongside that, these materials are non-toxic.

It’s the coolest thing that PET clear plastic is a non-reactive element.

At no single time will it react with food products.

Better still, this earth-friendly packaging aims to address long-term issues like food waste, food safety, not to mention preserving food quality.

So the companies are adopting it as a cost-effective option for beverages.

To tackle the persistent plastic waste accumulation, PET plastic is among the potential solutions to overlook.

Thanks for its recyclable feature that makes it usable again and again to create new products. 

Just like glass, PET is among the few yet popular transparent materials.

Even most people prefer it over glass packaging as it is safe to use. Because of its excellent barrier, customers get confidence when it comes to the integrity of a product. 

You can get the container to promote proper maintenance of food products. With various sizes, designs, and shapes to choose from, grab the option that meets your requirements. 

What we like:

  • BPA-free
  • 100 percent recyclable – popular recycled plastic
  • Robust and shatterproof build quality
  • Safe for packaging foods and beverages

What we don’t like

  • Made from recycled oil-based plastic materials

Sugarcane/ Bagasse containers

Bagasse is derived from sugarcane leftovers.

After companies extract sugar from sugarcane plants, the waste (bagasse) left isn’t disposed of; instead, the material becomes vital in making more environmentally friendly containers for food packaging.

This pulpy material is plant-based, toxic-free, and renewable.

It’s a fibrous material used to produce smart, durable containers, which appeals to eco-friendly consumers. Unlike plastic, these products only use less energy during production.

Another advantage is that sugarcane containers biodegrade.

It decomposes fast than glass or plastic materials.

What we like:

  • Durable enough to withstand greasy foods
  • Great for both cold and hot applications
  • Refrigerator and microwave safe
  • Compostable and biodegradable
  • Content contains zero toxic dyes

What we don’t like:

  • Pricier than other foam materials 
  • Requires a commercial composting facility for composition


Effective and splendid, cornstarch is a reputable kind of eco-friendly food packaging. The material used in production hails from maize as well as corn plants. Hence, they’re biodegradable. 

Uniquely to other solutions, this material addresses pressing international stakes regarding plastic and food waste reduction. Keep in mind that it’s our task to lessen practices that would harm our environment. 

In the United States, the production of biodegradable content from plant-food waste residues is gaining momentum. It’s proving to be a classic route to create more resilient, productive, and innovative waste-based food packaging.

To enhance environment conservation, consumers must dispose of or throw away packaging materials in a proper manner. Otherwise, it can take thousands of years for them to decompose completely.

Cornstarch will break down quickly into water and carbon dioxide, causing no harm to our ecosystem at large. Because these materials are cheap and easy to produce, companies use them to package and pack food products. 

What we like:

  • It takes a short time to decompose when disposed of properly
  • It’s biodegradable
  • Cheap and sustainable materials
  • Suitable for packaging a wide variety of foods
  • Easy to produce

What we don’t like

  • Decompose slowly when disposed of unprofessionally

PLA Plastic Containers

Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic comes from the sugar in cassava, sugarcane, and corn waste. The thermoplastic material is a perfect eco-alternative to bubble wrap and Styrofoam. In recent times, New York has upheld a ban on Styrofoam, favorite material common for loose-fill food packaging.

The material is safe, such that the FDA recognizes and accredits it as the best type of eco-food packaging. Typically, businesses are using it to create plates for food and cup for beverages. 

Besides, the containers keep the hot paper cups away from getting soggy. 

What we like:

  • BPA, toxic-free
  • Ideal for numerous applications (hot and cold)
  • Allows less to no carbon prints as compared to traditional plastics

What we don’t like:

  • They can only be recycled separately as they’re chemically different
  • Not easily compostable –requires special composting conditions

Metal Packaging 

Say goodbye to food waste. Metal packaging has been in use since the 19th century. Scientifically, metal enjoys a sustainability and safety record. That said, it’s a favorite in the packaging of drinks – both carbonated and non-carbonated. 

For business considering a classic thing for food waste reduction, metal packaging will excel. There are a plethora of designs to try out. According to recent research, 70% of metal containers used before are still in use, as we talk. 

It’s all about recycling prowess, which helps take care of the environment. That said, metal packaging minimizes the amount of waste at landfills. If you can recycle the material to infinity, then it would be fair to cement that this method is eco-friendly.

Most scholars recommend using metal containers, pots, cups, and plates to impact the environment positively. However, avoid over-packaging to ensure everything is secure and safely contained. 

What we like:

  • Recyclable to infinity
  • Reduction of waste
  • Safe and secure to store drinks in metal containers
  • A sustainable method of environment conservation

What we don’t like

  • The technique is exorbitantly expensive

Glass Packaging

Known for its ability to preserve food product’s integrity and taste, glass packaging is gaining traction as a dependable eco-friendly material. 

Aforementioned, glass has one main benefit in that you can use it over and over again. During that time, the material won’t lose its purity or quality. The standard glass containers to see in food packaging include glass jars, bottles, and pots.

Glass is inert. Therefore, it’s safe and healthy to use. You need to take your glass products to a nearby recycling location for collection. 

What we like

  • It’s recyclable
  • The glass retains its quality and purity to infinity
  • Healthy and safe to use due to its inert state
  • Eco-friendly properties
  • Made from bioavailable materials

What we don’t like

  • It takes million years to decompose when disposed of (non-biodegradable)
  • Heavier and fragile

Bubble Wrap Packaging

As of now, everybody is familiar with the use of bubble wrap in packaging. Its plastic material is commonly used for packaging valuable and fragile goods during shipping. The flexible, equally spaced air bubble protects the items by cushioning them. 

Although it’s not the best eco-friendly alternative, companies are developing corrugated wrap made of recycled cardboard. 80 percent of these materials are plastic-made, though. 

Some bubble wrap features a flat surface. So, you should correctly wrap your item to avoid shock. The good news is that this transparent material is recyclable at designated recycling locations. 

What we like:

  • Flexible plastic material
  • 100 percent recyclable
  • Offers protection to fragile items

What we don’t like:

  • Not 100 percent satisfactory afterward

Reusable Polypropylene Containers

While people are increasingly becoming eco-conscious, sustainable materials are emerging. Reusable polypropylene containers aim to reduce waste in recreation areas, cafeterias and universities.

As a restaurant owner looking to reward your loyal, conscious consumers, it’s a wise idea to use this sustainable material to reward them. For instance, when customers purchase a meal and bring back the used container, they receive a discount. 

What we like:

  • Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
  • 100 percent BPA-free
  • Durable, leak-resistant, waterproof
  • Recyclable 
  • The container offers several applications

What we don’t like:

  • Costly than other eco-alternatives

Recyclable paper and cardboard

Both paper and cardboard are organic materials. Yes, that makes them environmentally friendly day in day out. Many recyclable points collect paper as they’re reusable. They can make fast food boxes, cereal boxes, frozen food boxes, just to mention but a few.

The same applies to cardboard as it provides significant packaging applications. The only downside is that recycled cardboard and paper contain harmful dyes that can result in food contamination. Some foods may not be safe for consumption under this packaging method, that is!

What we like:

  • Made from organic materials
  • Eco-alternative to plastic papers
  • Certified compostable option
  • 100% biodegradable
  • reusable

What we don’t like:

  • May not originate sustainably and preferably managed forests.

Take-Out Boxes

Ditch the plastic bags, glass, and PETs with take-out boxes. The industries engineer these boxes for maximum durability and strength. Simply put, the construction is top-notch. You’ll like the convenience of carrying food items with them anywhere and everywhere.

The use of boxes discourages the disposable of items into landfills. Take-out boxes are available in different designs, giving you a more comprehensive selection. I’d choose it over other food packaging materials. 

In addition, these boxes are easy to assemble. You can open and close it to meet your needs. Since they come in different prints, sizes, and colors, you can choose the one that accommodates foods on your prep recipe. 

Customers rave how they’re excellent for baked goods, fried meals, and boxed lunches. A good example is a pizza box.

What we like:

  • It comes in solid colors to choose from
  • Grease-resistant material
  • Compostable and recyclable choice
  • Durable paperboard construction

What we don’t like:

  • can be sourced from non-plant-based trees

Why Switch to Styrofoam Alternatives?

Why are environmentalists pushing for the use of Styrofoam alternatives? Styrofoam is the material that classifies all types of EPS foam products. Although these products are relatively recyclable, they take long a long time to degrade. 

That way, polystyrene products have become a major contributor to the environment for various reasons:

  • EPS foam products often decompose into small pieces due to external forces, hence polluting the water, leaving aquatic life in danger.
  • Polystyrene foam products are non-biodegradable. As per estimation, Styrofoam takes 50 percent of the overall landfill space.
  • The main ingredient in foam products (styrene) is a human carcinogen. So, consistent disposal can cause health disorders.

Wrap Up

With many cities worldwide banning specific food packaging materials, it’s high time we jump ship to more eco-alternatives. All materials made from fossil fuels may pose a challenge to our environments. 

But with eco-friendly packaging materials for food like Kraft Paper, bagasse containers, and more, you should recognize the chance and make a switch. They are available at competitive prices. 

And since eco-friendly is now mainstream, it would make sense if you stay ahead of the game. 

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