Eco-Friendly Ice Cream Packaging for Food Service and Retail

Branded Ice Cream Tubs and coloured PLA ice cream spoons

Are you a food vendor serving ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt? Maybe you’re breaking ground in retail with mochi? If so, you need to know how to properly package your frozen delights to keep customers coming back.

Packaging frozen foods can be tricky, often leaving your patrons in a sticky mess. Eco-friendly ice cream packaging offers a planet-positive solution for the food service and retail industries.

Let’s look at the most practical, functional and sustainable packaging for ice cream, cold desserts and more.

Related: The Best Packaging Materials for Takeaway Food and Drinks in 2022.

A Brief History of Ice Cream (and Packaging)

First, it’s worth knowing how ice cream was packaged when it became a popular consumer product.

The invention of ice cream dates back centuries, yet it only became available en masse with the advent of mechanical refrigeration; when ice cream could be stored — instead of necessitating immediate consumption — packaging was essential.

But the world was a long way off from developing a suitable solution. Waxed paper cartons were most fashionable for serving “iced cream” at the turn of the 20th century, far from an ideal choice of packaging, as frozen foods become a gloopy mess in short order.

Skip forward a century or so, and ice cream is one of the most popular sweet treats globally. In Great Britain, over 400,000 metric tonnes of ice cream are sold in the retail sector alone. 

Ice cream packaging has come a long way since. The global market for ice cream and sorbets is projected to grow, reaching $84.9 billion in 2025 — now’s a good time to double down on the sale of ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt.

So what’s the most sustainable and cost-effective way to package these frozen treats?

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How to Package Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of the trickiest food products to preserve effectively and serve smoothly. The packaging you use will depend on where you’re keeping your frozen products and how you intend to sell them.

There are some guidelines for how you should store chilled, cold and frozen food:

  • Chilled food — below 4ºC 
  • Cold food — between 10-15ºC
  • Frozen food — below -18ºC. 

Keeping foods at these temperatures will prevent your products from spoiling while allowing you to serve ice cream at the perfect temperature, which is between -12-15ºC, according to studies.

Retail Ice Cream Packaging

Packaging in the retail sector ranges from custom paperboard tubs — used extensively by global brands such as Oatly and Ben & Jerry’s — to plastic containers utilised primarily by supermarket brands.

You can guess which is more effective, safer and better for the planet — it’s not plastic ice cream packaging. Typically made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene plastic) or PP (polypropylene) plastic, households have long reused this kind of packaging due to its size and durability. It’s not a good idea to hang onto these containers, though.

Related: Can You Recycle or Reuse Plastic Takeaway Containers? 

Over-the-Counter Ice Cream Packaging

Ice cream packaging is more varied for food vendors operating out of shops, vans and stalls. Still, ice cream tubs remain popular for practicality and convenience. While these containers are only second to ice cream cones, there’s an array of packaging materials, formats and accessories to choose from.

Buying wholesale ice cream packaging doesn’t need to be a risk. Order free packaging samples and put our tubs and accessories to the test.

Ice cream tub and lidFeatured: Ice Cream Tubs for The Betterment (Jason Atherton)

Types of Ice Cream Packaging

The ice cream packaging in shops and supermarkets differs from packaging used in the food service industry, but it shares a few similarities. Ultimately, the ice cream packaging should be:

  • Functional — Keep the product safe and at the desired temperature.
  • Practical — Easy to open, use and dispose of for customers of all ages.
  • Eco-Friendly — Most consumers actively seek out sustainable packaging.

To meet this criteria, you must know which packaging materials to use. The most innovative ice cream packaging products do more than just help you serve delicious scoops. They also help protect the environment by providing consumers with more responsible ways to dispose of cream tubs

Biodegradable Ice Cream Tubs

Our disposable ice cream tubs are crafted from food-grade paperboard and lined with PLA (polylactic acid), a plant-based bioplastic that’s naturally compostable and biodegradable. The lining prevents the packaging from being compromised by moisture, condensation or melted ice cream.

While using PLA means they’re not recyclable, they’re much friendlier to the planet than plastic-lined alternatives that are resource-intensive to manufacture and rarely recycled.

All our ice cream tubs are available in 3oz, 4oz, 5oz and 8oz sizes. These sizes cater to most appetites. Each box contains 1,000 or more units, substantial enough for a demanding business yet small enough to cater for standalone events.

Printed Ice Cream Tubs with Lids

The colourful design on these tubs is printed using water and vegetable-based inks to add a little eco-friendly fun into the mix. They’re suitable for cold or hot foods, making them vibrant and versatile.

Plain Ice Cream Tubs with Lids

Are you looking for a natural finish? These unbranded tubs are available in larger sizes, from 8oz upwards. They’re ideal for açai bowls, frozen yoghurt or anything more than a scoop or two of ice cream. There’s enough room for nuts, seeds, fruit and berries for a delectably healthy treat!

Hungry for more? You can always contact us about placing larger or regular orders.

Compostable Ice Cream Spoons 3

Disposable Ice Cream Spoons

Our compostable and biodegradable cutlery will decompose naturally in far less time and at a fraction of the environmental cost than the traditional plastic-based cutlery. It’s also a lot more sturdy — how many times have you tried scooping some of your frozen dessert only to find your flimsy plastic spoon breaks?

Wooden Ice Cream Spoons

These spoons have a rustic aesthetic that customers will immediately recognise as eco-friendly. Made from birchwood, they’re strong, smooth and perfectly safe for use with hot or cold food. Our wooden cutlery is naturally biodegradable and can be composted domestically or commercially. Also available as a wooden cutlery set.

Bioplastic Spoons

Colourful and future-friendly, these spoons are available in both 4” scoop and 3” spoon varieties for serving all kinds of frozen food. Our bioplastic cutlery is entirely biodegradable — the material has similar physical attributes to traditional plastic without the typical environmental drawbacks.

Avocado Seed Spoons

Our plant-based packaging is innovative, renewable and just a bit different. These longer avocado seed spoons are ideal for up-market brands serving speciality desserts. Printed on all of this cutlery is “Avocado Seed Based”, making your customers aware that you aren’t using plastic. Also available as a 3-in-1 cutlery set.

Case Study: Eco-Friendly Ice Cream Tubs for Scally’s

Printed Ice Cream TubFeatured: Scally’s of Clonakilty Ice Cream Packaging for Gelato

We created custom ice cream packaging for Scally’s of Clonakilty, a small business with a local focus but plenty of ambition. The deep black and brilliant white paperboard packaging was printed using eco-friendly, water-based inks that are safe for use with food. These tubs and lids complemented their selection of wholesome products, helping them offer a memorable experience for their customers.

Ordering Custom Ice Cream Packaging

Custom Ice Cream Packaging

We’re one of the leading ice cream packaging suppliers in the UK. Our vision is to help our clients achieve sustainable, carbon-neutral packaging in style. With our custom ice cream packaging, you can do just that!

Paperboard tubs are fully customisable. We can print all of the external surfaces to display a logo, artwork or branding, as opposed to block-colour plastic containers or translucent plastic tubs that don’t help sell your products. The branded designs are printed using water or vegetable-based inks that are vivid and food-safe.

Our stock ice cream tubs and lids are available for next-day delivery — ideal for last-minute surges in demand, no matter the season.

Using our branding service, you can get a free, no-obligation quote in as little as 48 hours. Your order will take slightly longer, though, as we craft your bespoke packaging. Trust us; these unique products are worth the wait!

Visit our online shop and discover eco-friendly ice cream packaging. Want to know more about branded packaging? Get in touch for more information or a free custom packaging design quote.