The Best Packaging Materials for Takeaway Food and Drinks in 2022


Nom Greaseproof Paper & Burger Boxes copy

With so many packaging options available for food and drinks products, it can be hard to decide on the right takeaway packaging for your business. So, what are the best types of food packaging materials eco-conscious businesses should be using?

Related: The Facts: Fast-Food Packaging Waste Statistics 

Things to Consider When Choosing Food and Drinks Packaging 

Long gone are the days of wrapping fish and chips in old newspapers — a practice banned in the 1990s amid health and safety concerns — but there’s still plenty of packaging in use today that’s harmful to humans and bad for the environment.

Picking the most effective packaging will depend on the kind of products you sell. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to get the ball rolling:

  • Are you serving hot or cold food?

Hot food requires specialised packaging that maintains the desired temperature of your dishes. This is especially important for food deliveries — there’s nothing more disappointing for customers than a cold takeaway.

Frozen or chilled food products should have packaging that’s resistant to moisture and impervious to condensation, like our ice cream tubs

  • What kind of drinks are you serving?

Hot beverages must be kept at the right temperature so your customers can enjoy them for longer. The packaging for hot drinks needs good insulating qualities and should also protect your customers from burning themselves or spilling their drink, so cup sleeves and lids should be provided.

Cold or chilled beverages require different packaging altogether. The packaging should keep your drinks cool and showcase your products in all their glory.

  • Does your packaging showcase your brand?

Your food and drinks packaging should tell customers what you’re about. If your packaging doesn’t feature your logo, artwork or company name, you’re missing out on free advertising when customers order drinks to take away or share your products via social media. 

A branded packaging solution can help maximise exposure, awareness and recognition of your unique brand. Get in touch for a free branded packaging quote.

Branded Ice Cream Tubs and coloured PLA ice cream spoons

What Are the Best Packaging Materials for Takeaways?

Different packaging materials have different characteristics. There’s no one-size-fits-all option for takeaway food and beverages. What you should use largely depends on the products you sell and the business you operate, be that a café, sushi restaurant, coffee shop, street food van or stall, burger joint or pizza parlour.

We think there are three golden rules for packaging food and drinks:

1. Safety — Packaging must be safe for use with food (food grade), and allergens must be clearly labelled, as per Natasha’s Law.

2. Sustainability — All packaging should be either recyclable, biodegradable, commercially or domestically compostable.

3. Style — People eat with their eyes, and branded packaging makes your menu items look appealing while boosting brand awareness.

Incorporating all three is no mean feat, but you can get surprisingly good results for minimal outlay if you use the right food packaging supplier! Let’s look at a few examples of the best food and drinks packaging materials to help you on your way.

Related: Can You Recycle or Reuse Plastic Takeaway Containers?

Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials for Takeaway Food 

Numerous eco-friendly food packaging types are available for eclectic cuisine, all of which have unique benefits. These packaging alternatives will help you avoid the worst single-use plastics, most of which are food or drink packaging that seriously impacts the environment.

Here are some of the best packaging materials for food directly from our online shop:


Kraft Food Packaging

Unlike plastic-based takeaway containers, Kraft food packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. It’s a popular choice for all kinds of takeaway food. Consumers prefer natural packaging materials like paper, cardboard and Kraft board as they’re all sustainable, lightweight and have a rustic aesthetic.

Kraft packaging is eco-friendly and perfect for hot food. Check out our burger boxes, chip cups, trays and much more.

Zumme Anti Leak Bowls & Lids 3 Bagasse-Clamshell-and-Tableware-1-1024x614

Bagasse Food Containers

One of the most innovative packaging materials is bagasse. It’s a sturdy, biodegradable and compostable substance made from sugarcane pulp — a natural by-product of sugarcane harvesting. It’s readily accessible and requires minimal processing, yet it’s impressively durable and eco-friendly.

Bagasse packaging is available in a range of designs, including clamshell meal boxes, leak-proof bowls and platters, ideal for all kinds of hot and cold food. It’s a truly versatile packaging material for any over-the-counter food service.

Pizza Boxes, Fish & Chip Boxes

Recycled Cardboard Food Packaging

Classic, sustainable packaging never goes out of fashion. Recycled cardboard food packaging comes in many shapes and sizes. Everything we stock has a high percentage of recycled contents, yet we guarantee a premium finish.

Check out our specialised food grade pizza boxes, lined with Kraft paper on the inside to maximise recyclability by improving grease, oil and moisture resistance. We also stock premium burger boxes, large fish and chips boxes and more, all of which are naturally biodegradable and can be recycled or composted after use.

Oh, and don’t forget about eco-friendly accessories — ensure all the packaging you use is safe, sustainable and stylish.

Sustainable Types of Takeaway Drinks Packaging

Drinks packaging for hot and cold beverages should be cost-effective and convenient, but this has caused endless problems with plastic pollution. The easiest way to minimise plastic waste is to offer your customers eco-friendly packaging alternatives they can dispose of easily and responsibly. 

Here are some of the best packaging options for beverages to turn the tide:


Biodegradable Coffee Cups

Constructed using recycled paper and lined with PLA — polylactic acid, a natural, renewable raw material made from corn starch — biodegradable cups are the perfect option for eco-conscious coffee shops and cafés. 

Crafted from responsibly sourced and recycled contents, they’re some of the most sustainable disposable cups available.

9oz 280ml Clear Biodegradable Cup 76mm EW1033 copy

Clear Bioplastic Cups and Lids

Bioplastic cups are completely biodegradable and resistant to liquids, making them ideal for smoothies, milkshakes, fresh juices and other chilled beverages. Bioplastics are a popular alternative to oil-based plastics since they share many of the same characteristics as their synthetic counterparts, only without the environmental drawbacks.

There’s a big difference between biodegradable plastics and bioplastics

  • PLA (polylactic acid) bioplastics are commercially compostable and decompose quickly in a controlled environment. 
  • Biodegradable plastics are oil-based plastics combined with an additive that helps them break down more quickly. 

Bioplastics are far more planet-positive than any oil-based plastics on the market, so keep it green with bioplastic cups.

Eco-Friendly Straws and Stirrers

In 2020, the UK banned plastic straws and stirrers. The modern packaging alternatives are biodegradable straws and biodegradable stirrers made using natural, renewable and plastic-free materials, including paper, PLA (polylactic acid) and even avocado seeds. 

They’re a green substitute for the non-recyclable and non-biodegradable drinks accessories of the past.

Cardboard v Plastic 4

Food and Drinks Packaging You Should Avoid

Some types of food and drinks packaging you should avoid altogether. Single-use plastics have an overwhelmingly negative environmental impact, but they’re also hazardous to human health. It’s been proven that people are unwittingly ingesting microplastics all the time, most of which come from plastic-based food and drinks packaging.

So what can you do about it?

It’s simple — avoid cheap, low-quality packaging materials like plastic takeaway containers, cutlery and any other toxic, non-biodegradable products.

Still not convinced of the risks of plastic food packaging? Research conducted by the Harvard Medical School has shown that, when heated, chemicals found in plastic takeaway containers can seep out into your food. These chemicals could seriously affect your customers’ health, which should be all the reason you need to ditch plastic food packaging altogether.

Related: Phthalates: The Most Dangerous Problem with Plastic Food Packaging 

Bangin Vegan Taco Paper Bags

Alternative Takeaway Packaging for Eco-Conscious Businesses

Businesses need safe, hygienic packaging alternatives that won’t affect their customers’ well-being or negatively impact the environment. This has led to a radical rise in eco-friendly packaging alternatives for the food and drinks sector.

None of the packaging materials used to create our sustainable food packaging contain any harmful chemicals, nor do they leave behind any trace of their existence once they decompose. 

Plus, most sustainable packaging options have similar or identical characteristics to outdated plastic packaging, making switching to eco-friendly packaging for food and drinks straightforward.

Making the Switch to Sustainable Takeaway Packaging

Sustainable packaging preserves the planet’s resources, protects your customers, minimises pollution and makes your eco-conscious brand stand out. There’s a wealth of awesome planet-positive packaging options for every kind of food vendor and any cuisine you can imagine, and innumerable benefits of switching to green packaging alternatives.

Check out our online shop and explore our range of food and drinks packaging for eco-conscious businesses. Looking for a branded packaging solution? Get in touch with our expert in-house team for more information about how we can help.


Blog updated: June 24, 2022