Brown paper bag packaging
Plastic takeaway packaging

Environmentally friendly food packaging – Envirolite paper honeycomb


In 2018, the average EU resident generated 175kg of packaging waste. At the equivalent weight of roughly two and a half adult women, this may not seem like a huge amount over the course of the year, but when you consider the volume of waste that would equate to this weight, this is a huge number. Only around two thirds is recycled – which means a third either ends up in landfills or natural environments.

That’s almost 60kg of waste – per person – generated from packaging that ends up as environmental pollution in one form or another. Across the 445 million people in Europe, this adds up to an astounding amount of environmental waste, much of which is plastic and other waste that will continue to wreak havoc with ecosystems for hundreds of years.

Again, this is only accounting for waste that’s generated by packaging. We’d bet that in the majority of cases, there are sustainable solutions to the packaging challenges that producers currently face. We decided to be part of the change.

Now, the majority of non-food goods can be and are already packaged in mostly-recyclable packaging – but a significant cause of waste is food packaging.

How food is currently packaged and shipped

It goes without saying that the primary goal of food packaging is to protect food from spoiling while in transit. At present, plastic packaging meets that criteria when it comes to the direct packaging of food. It’s an inert material that’s unlikely to change with transient environmental changes and, in many cases, allows food to stay vacuum packed for long periods of time.

However, many products are wrapped in plastic, put into a plastic container, then shipped in plastic-wrapped boxes, usually thermally insulated by plastic products like polystyrene. All of these are discarded at the end of the production chain.

The thing is, the majority of these plastic elements in the product chain aren’t necessary. It would be more excusable if they were reused, but with the length of supply chains to make, say, supermarket sandwiches, it’s not economically feasible to take up a significant portion of shipping capacity with returning packaging boxes – across the breadth of Europe, for example.

If an item is going to be single use, it should be easily biodegradable. And it’s not enough to assume that just because a single-use item is recyclable that it will be recycled, the data shows this – so we need to return to paper.

Dufaylite 2 piece insert thermal packaging
The solution to bulk packaging

One of the greatest challenges to food packaging and distribution is the need to keep food at a particular temperature – hot food hot, cold food cold. Where traditionally this has been achieved through polystyrene inserts in plastic boxes, we’ve developed a number of options for 100% recyclable and biodegradable inserts and boxes.

Our innovative honeycomb core is able to trap air and create an effective thermal lining – much like double-glazed windows – so that the ambient temperature inside the box stays much the same throughout its duration. Crucially, the nature of the honeycomb core also gives it a surprising amount of strength. We use much the same concept in our honeycomb pallets, for example, and they can hold actual tonnes.

Let’s talk

With more innovation in this field, we hope to one day see a truly zero-waste food chain. But innovation is never a solitary endeavour, we need to work together to find challenges and develop those innovative solutions – let’s talk about how we can help make the world a brighter, less polluted place.

8 July 2021

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