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A Guide to Choosing Sustainable Food Packaging

Consumer trends come and go, but one thing is here to stay: environmental awareness. And as a brand's purpose now outweighs cost and convenience for most consumers, there are no more excuses; it is time to consider how your brand can be more eco-friendly.

An excellent place to start is eco-friendly packaging for your food, also known as sustainable packaging. There are different ways packaging can be environmentally friendly, including non-toxic or reusable packaging.

And it's not just businesses with sustainable products that are adapting types of sustainable packaging. More and more companies are recognizing the importance of using sustainable packaging for their brand.

Are you interested in attracting more consumers and being more sustainable? This guide will provide everything you need to know to find the best packaging solutions for your food business.

Why Is Sustainable Packaging Important?

There is a reason why consumers are becoming more mindful of eco-friendly products and packaging. Over 12 million metric tons of plastic can end up in our oceans yearly. This number will continue to increase unless everyone takes action to be more sustainable.

However, the food or beverage industry is one of the most significant contributors to environmental waste pollution, so the environment and your brand must step up and become more sustainable. One of the best places to start is with eco-friendly packaging.

Eco-friendly packaging is also essential to avoid plastic accumulation in landfills and toxins transferring to food from packaging. Sustainable packaging also helps prevent micro and nano-plastics.

Once you have sustainable packaging, you can also gain consumer trust that you are taking steps to be more environmentally friendly. It is a great way to market your sustainable food products and your brand's purpose.

Types of Eco-Friendly Packaging

Eco-friendly food packaging continues to become more widespread, and more options are available than ever. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has set specific criteria to help find sustainable packaging. This includes:

  • Beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities

  • Meets standards for performance and cost

  • Source, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy

  • Optimizes recycled or renewable source materials

  • Manufactured by clean production technologies

There are several types of sustainable packaging you can consider for food packaging. Not all options will be suitable for your packaging strategies as a brand; however, these are some of the top choices to consider to protect the planet, consumers' health, and your business.


Bamboo is one of the best biodegradable options for food packaging. There are a variety of ways you can use bamboo for eco-friendly packagings, such as:

  • Serving bowls

  • Plastic-free boxes

  • Bamboo lids

Bamboo has a rapid growth rate, and there is no need to alter its composition. It is not as durable as specific reusable packaging options, and you need to ensure it follows proper treatment processes. Otherwise, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be released, which can cause side effects such as allergies.

Rice Husk

Rice husk is a byproduct of rice farming. You can use it for a variety of food packaging options. It is an excellent biodegradable, cost-effective, and renewable choice.

Gelatin Films

Gelatin films are becoming more popular for food packaging as they are non-toxic, biodegradable, and antioxidant. They are also low-cost. However, there are some limitations in use as they do not have the best waterproof properties.


Glass is one of the best recyclable packaging choices, also being easy to clean and transport. They are a popular choice for sustainable products, but often you need to consider the lid material to prevent leaks. One option is to use sustainable packaging materials such as bamboo for the lid to glass packaging.

Food Packaging Grades

Packaging grades refer to specific standards and criteria packaging meets. Look out for food-grade packaging, which is sustainable packaging that will not transfer substances, such as toxins, to the food.

There are also other certifications that the packaging follows. This includes the Global Food Safety Initiative. Ratings of 96-100 are considered excellent for packaging, 85-95 good, and 70-84 complies.

These grades also apply to other forms of packaging too, including plastics. It is important to meet compliance standards. And standards help evidence to consumers that your packaging is sustainable.

Sustainable Packaging Tips

It can feel overwhelming to know where to begin with choosing eco-friendly packaging. However, following sustainable packaging tips is an excellent place to start. These tips include:

  • Minimizing the amount of packaging material

  • Using compostable or biodegradable packaging

  • Find reusable packaging

  • Use recycled packaging

  • Limit materials

  • Use seasonal or local eco-friendly products

  • Label packaging well

It is not only about finding sustainable materials. You can also consider how to reduce food packaging and simplify the number of materials you use. Using eco-friendly or sustainable food products also helps you be even more sustainable.

Market Your Sustainable Packaging

It is also critical to label packaging well. You are not only receiving free marketing for your business, but it ensures consumers know your packaging is eco-friendly. Many assume packaging is single-use, meaning labels can help educate them and promote your eco-friendly brand values.

If you use compostable packaging, you can also encourage consumers to use it in their own compost. Any way you can make your sustainable packaging as simple and effective as possible will leave a lasting impact. For example, simplifying the materials you use makes it easier for consumers to recycle without having to take food packaging apart.

Get Support with Your Eco-Friendly Packaging

There is a reason why some of the biggest brands are adopting sustainable food packaging ideas. It is time to take action, and consumers agree too. You are not only supporting your business and attracting new leads, but you can have peace of mind you are supporting the planet too.

However, when creating eco-friendly packaging, you do not have to do it alone. Finding a professional service to ensure your food packaging is sustainable and reflects your brand is the best option for success.

MiLK&BULL has a team of dedicated visual storytellers to create your dream food packaging design. Contact us today to learn more.

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