5 Types of Eco-Friendly Food Packaging (and 3 to Avoid)

Food packaging uses over 60% of all plastics manufactured worldwide (1Trusted Source).

Accordingly, 228 million metric tonnes of the 380 million metric tonnes of plastics manufactured in 2015 were exclusively used for food packaging (1 Trusted Source, 2 Trusted Source).

Due to the negative consequences that nondegradable plastic packaging has on both the environment and human health, many people are working to substantially cut plastic production, enhance recycling, and support more environmentally friendly food packaging.

This article outlines the necessity of eco-friendly food packaging, offers a list of five to try, and warns you about a few to stay away from.

Why is it vital to use sustainable food packaging?

The buildup of micro- and nanoplastics, the production of micro- and nanoplastics, and human exposure to toxins when chemicals in food packaging transfer to foods are some of the concerns related to plastics (1Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Food packaging contains a variety of unintentionally added substances (NIAS), in addition to the chemicals that are purposefully utilised to make polymers. Human toxicity and endocrine disruption hazards are associated with these substances (1 Trusted Source, 3 Trusted Source).

However, alternatives to conventional packaging that are more environmentally friendly are spreading.

These environmentally friendly food packaging materials frequently make use of reusable, biodegradable plant materials like wheat, wood, and bamboo as well as sustainable bioplastics (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

The movement of chemicals into food and your body is much lower with eco-friendly packaging than it is with plastics, making them safer for the environment and human health (3Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source), despite the fact that they have also been shown to contain chemicals and NIAS.

Exposure to chemicals in food packaging is inevitable, however it is crucial for human health to make steps to limit the transfer of these chemicals into food (3Trusted Source).


Numerous environmental and public health problems are associated with plastic food packing, such as accumulation in the oceans and endocrine system disturbance. Thankfully, there are more eco-friendly substitutes available.

Sustainable choices for food packaging

Here are 5 environmentally friendly solutions for food packaging that are better for the environment and your health.

1.Glass bottles

For daily living, glass has a wide range of applications and advantages.

It is a long-lasting, recyclable material that is also simple to clean and use for portable food packaging. Water bottles and bento boxes are examples of glass food and beverage containers (9Trusted Source).

Glass lids are not appropriate for portable containers to be taken to work, school, or on a trip since they can leak.

Therefore, the majority of these portable glass food containers have bamboo covers that also double as cutting boards or snap-locking plastic lids with silicone seals.

Make sure to select lids free of bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor linked to male and female infertility as well as the growth of tumours (10Trusted Source).

These containers can be recycled when they are no longer needed, outlasting plastic containers by 3.5 times their lifespan and lowering their harmful environmental effects (11Trusted Source).

2. Steel is stainless

Food-grade stainless steel is a secure option for food storage since it is strong, rust-free, and heat resistant. It can also be recycled and reused.

There are several stainless steel bento lunch boxes on the market, but the majority of them use silicone to prevent leaks, either through a silicone seal with locking steel clips or with vibrant, BPA-free, food-safe silicone lids.

For holding bulk foods like flours, grains, and spices, glass storage jars with stainless steel, airtight lids provide the best of both worlds.

3. Bamboo

Due to its durability and heat resistance, bamboo is biodegradable and has many other desired qualities for food packaging (12Trusted Source).

Among the food packaging made of bamboo are bread boxes made of bamboo, serving bowls made of bamboo, portable plastic-free lunch boxes with bamboo lids, and countertop glass jars with bamboo covers.

Remember that food containers made of bamboo or other plant fibres are less enduring than those made of glass or stainless steel and are more susceptible to wear and tear.

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4. Rice bran

Rice husk is a low-cost, renewable, and biodegradable byproduct of rice farming (13Trusted Source).

Up one study, it was discovered that rice husk has bio-adsorbent capabilities, which implies that it takes in toxins from its surroundings (13Trusted Source).

This substance is used to create products like shatterproof serving bowls and lunch boxes with sealable lids.

5. Films in gelatin

Due to its benign qualities, affordability, and consistent film-forming capacity, gelatin films are growing in popularity for food packaging (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

Gelatin is a food ingredient that is generally accepted as safe (GRAS), according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (17Trusted Source).

Antimicrobial cellulose, found in gelatin films, prevents the growth of common pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli, which are responsible for foodborne disease. coli. Gelatin films are a safer alternative to traditional plastics thanks to these active fillers (15Trusted Source).

The two main fillers for gelatin food packaging are microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) and rosin-grafted cellulose nanocrystals (r-CNCs).


Some of the most environmentally friendly food packaging currently available includes glass jars, food-grade stainless steel, bamboo, rice husks, and cellulose-filled gelatin films.

Types of plastic to avoid

Stabilizers, fillers, plasticizers, flame retardants, and — more recently — antimicrobials are just a few of the compounds included in conventional plastics (1Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

These petroleum-based plastic items are not biodegradable, which means they don’t break down into organic materials.

Instead, they disintegrate into tiny pieces known as micro- and nanoplastics that pollute the environment and endanger human health and natural ecosystems (1, 2, 3, and 8 Trusted Sources).

The chemicals these additives include cause pollution and raise the risk of endocrine disorders and cancer in people, even if they may result in a more desired plastic product that makes it possible to store and transport food (1Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Here are 3 polymers made from petroleum that you should stay away from.

1. Disposable plastics

The most prevalent single-use plastics that are not environmentally friendly and shouldn’t be disposed of properly are straws, drink bottles, bottle tops, Styrofoam cups, and plastic bags.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii, serves as an example of how single-use plastics are especially damaging to oceans and coastal areas.

2.Containing BPA

The plasticizer ingredient bisphenol-A (BPA) is used to create polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a component of many plastic products (10Trusted Source).

BPA migrates from food packaging to the food itself as well as accumulating in the environment. It can raise the risk of infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other metabolic conditions when consumed (10Trusted Source).

3. Takeout containers made of plastic

Disposable takeout containers are frequently used, which generates a lot of waste, which causes pollution and environmental pollutants (19Trusted Source).


Due to the harm they do to the environment and people’s health, it is advisable to personally steer clear of — and seek to phase out — single-use plastics, BPA-containing packaging, and takeaway containers.

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Tips to cut down on the use of plastic packaging

  • Choose reusable metal or bamboo straws in place of single-use plastic straws. Cleaning brushes for reusable straws are a must-have for the hygienic maintenance of these products. Alternatively, single-use paper straws are biodegradable and eco-friendly.
  • Opt for nonplastic or BPA-free reusable water bottles and consider investing in a bottle brush.
  • Use at-home water filters — either faucet filters or pitchers with filters — help reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles.
  • Skip the utensils when you next order takeout to use less single-use plastic. Instead, use your own utensils.
  • When you need to replace food containers, choose glass containers rather than plastic.
  • Look for biodegradable, bioplastic products in place of conventional, petroleum-based plastics.
  • Recycle appropriate plastic food packages to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Washing and reusing plastic food containers, such as Tupperware and plastic zip bags, may help reduce their environmental impact (11Trusted Source).


Consumption reusable packaging and items made of metal, glass, or plant-based materials to limit your use of single-use, petroleum-based plastics.

Businesses leading the way in environmentally friendly packaging

The firms listed below make biodegradable, sustainable food packaging.


Australian startup BioPak creates paper-based disposable food packaging that is environmentally beneficial using trees from plantations that are sustainably maintained.

Products include cutlery, hot mugs, and takeout containers. Products created of the company’s bioplastic are made from paper, not oil.

Company named The Robinette

The Robinette Company, which has FDA approval, specialises in post-consumer recycled film and paper that promotes a circular economy where resources are reused rather than thrown away.

Products include laminated rolls for packing, printed film and paper, and stand-up pouches for snacks and grains.


An American wholesaler named PrimeWare offers food service organisations disposable, environmentally friendly items.

Products include tableware, paper straws, hot cups with lids, and compostable food containers (plates, bowls, and trays).


These food containers are made by PouchEco using plastic-free, plant-based stand-up pouches that decompose into organic matter.

This producer provides resealable pouches to food businesses that market goods including tofu, gummy vitamins, and gourmet veggie sausages.

Ethical Brands

Another American business, Ecologic Brands, manufactures the Eco.bottle, a recyclable bottle that may be composted.


Many businesses oppose petroleum-based plastics and offer a range of sustainable, biodegradable, and eco-friendly food packaging.

The conclusion

Environmental pollution from petroleum-based food packaging poses several health hazards, such as cancer and metabolic diseases.

Choosing environmentally friendly food packaging that is biodegradable, less toxic, and recyclable is a fantastic step toward reducing plastics’ detrimental impacts on your health and the environment, even though it may be impossible to totally eliminate these plastics.

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