The new report summarises knowledge about the environmental impact of single-use plastic packaging for take-away food and alternatives that could potentially replace it. Takeaway food is interpreted as food that is sold for immediate consumption after purchase and is consumed away from the food outlet (e.g., home, work, street). Different types of food take-away packaging are used today, for example:
- food boxes,
- crates and food savers.
Though packagings might be different in design, form and volume, their names are sometimes used interchangeably (for instance, containers and food savers). However all the alternatives considered in this study should provide the same function for storage and transportation of take-away food that is sold for immediate consumption after purchase and is consumed away from the food outlet.
The assessed packaging alternatives include mainly packaging made for single-use, with alternatives for reuse being considered as well. The materials used for the assessed packaging are different types of plastics (made of fossil and bio-based resources, virgin or recycled content) and other types of materials: aluminium, paper/cardboard/wood and glass (the latter only for reusable containers).
The report also discusses implications of this knowledge for policy makers and other actors aiming at reducing the environmental impact of single-use food packaging.
The report is based on a meta-analysis of six life cycle assessment (LCA) studies as well as reflections on five additional studies.