Are you looking to choose more sustainable packaging at home or in your business, but aren't sure what to pick? We've done the research and pulled together a simple checklist for making the most sustainable choices when it comes to packaging to use at home, at events or in your business. There are lots of great packaging options out there and ultimately, we recommend you look online to find the best option for you – but we’ve given you a few ideas to start you off. These are merely suggestions, rather than endorsements.
Step 1. Waste audit
First make a list of the packaging and products you use in your house, office or business (for both staff and customers). Doing an audit like this of what goes in the bin is a great place to start!
Step 2. Choose your packaging
1. Reusable packaging
Choosing reusable is the best zero waste option, as it reduces waste going to landfill. There’s lots of things you can do – here’s a few to get you started:
Check out this disposable coffee cup recycling guide for all the information you need for on-the-go coffee cup schemes.
3. Compostable packaging
Compostable packaging can be a good option for serving food and drinks at large eventsIF this packaging is collected separately on site to be sent to a suitable commercial composting facility. If you are a business, talk to your waste management contractor or compostable packaging provider to find out if they can collect compostable packaging. In Edinburgh Vegware provide this collection service for their products.
Why a specific collection?
Compostable packaging must be treated via in-vessel composting to break down completely. However, food waste collected in Scotland is largely sent for anaerobic digestion, which is not able to completely break down compostable packaging. If compostable packaging is sent to an anaerobic digestor it is considered a contaminant and has to be sent to landfill, where it releases greenhouse gases.
What can it be used for?
Compostable packaging can be made from many different materials including sugarcane, cornstarch, potato starch, cellulose, paper, card, bamboo, wood and palm leaves. Different materials can affect their sustainability, and are designed to contain different types of food and drink, for example:
Sugar cane (or bagasse) is an alternative to polystyrene boxes/containers and plates
Paper/card isn’t as strong as sugar cane but is often a cheaper option and can still be used for a variety of purposes
Cornstarch (PLA) is largely suited to cold food and drinks and can be made transparent (e.g. for smoothie cups)
Biopac make a range of compostable products including a ‘doggy bag’, made of wood pulp, which cafes and restaurants can try for free by requesting a Good to Go starter pack from Zero Waste Scotland. Good to Go encourages them to give leftover food on the plate to customers in a ‘doggy bag’ to enjoy at home.
4. Recycled packaging
Where it is not possible to reuse or recycle packaging, instead use items that come in recycled packaging. For example:
We hope this guide has been useful in helping you pick the sustainable wheat from the plastic chaff. If you have any questions about how to reduce your waste or where to pass it on to a new home, please check out our Too Good to Waste A-Z guide, or contact our team who will be happy to help : email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 555 4010.