How to transition to more sustainable food packaging practices – a guide

Food Packaging

Retub containers in use

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has released new guidelines for improving packaging sustainability for the Australian food service industry.

The document was presented on Thursday at the Australian Waste and Recycling Expo by APCO’s sustainability manager, Jayne Paramor. Paramor was on the Food Waste Stage as part of the “Australia’s Best Practice Food Service Packaging Guidelines” panel, joined by GreenLister Biopak‘s founder and sustainability director Richard Fine, among other industry leaders.

The resource was developed in close consultation with government, the food services industry, waste handlers, composters and recyclers, academics and community groups and so reflects a waste hierarchy and circular economy approach, Paramor said.

According to APCO’s chief executive officer, Brooke Donnelly, the guide has become increasingly necessary as consumers start to demand more sustainable options and manufacturers produce dubious products to meet these demands.

Food service businesses are facing unprecedented pressure and confusion”

“Food service businesses are facing unprecedented pressure and confusion,” Donnelly said, referring to “growing consumer backlash against problematic and single-use plastics” and a “rapidly changing marketplace that’s inundated with new materials and disruptive models”.

“We are delighted to be launching this new resource which will support those businesses that are considering more sustainable packaging, but don’t know where to start.”

The guide provides organisations with a framework for reviewing and implementing more sustainable food service packaging options, highlighting the importance of asking questions such as “can you purchase packaging that includes recycled content?” and “how can you and your customers avoid and reduce the amount of packaging that is needed?”.

It also offers tips such as not providing customers with straws, packaged cutlery or take-away bags as the default, rather only supplying these items upon explicit request “thus reducing their costs, enabling them to supply a more sustainable alternative despite a potentially higher price point”.

There is also a list of suggested facilitators of reusable serviceware – which happily includes GreenListers Globelet and CoCup.

Finally, the document also features a series of case studies outlining how companies such as QANTAS and the GPT group have transitioned towards more reuse and less waste in their food service practices.

In addition to this document, APCO is also currently working on a range of new material to support the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets.