It has recently been reported that 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups per year are thrown away in the UK, and you may be surprised to hear that less than 1% get recycled. This is because most cups have a polyethylene coating (needed to stop leaks) that must be separated before recycling.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to find out why we waste so much. Hugh’s War On Waste has been highly publicised and consumers are now more aware than ever about the amount of waste going into landfill – not just coffee cups, but food waste, and all packaging. Hugh has brought this issue to light, customers are now very aware, and are asking for things to change. Takeaways and street food outlets face increasing environmental challenges, including reducing packaging waste, and along with many other businesses, are being encouraged to consider more environmentally friendly solutions.

Many small businesses will be left asking themselves where they can source more eco-friendly materials and how the cost will impact their bottom line. Fortunately, there are alternatives available, and they don’t cost as much as you might think.

One U.K.-based company is ready to take on the changes and help food traders meet any new regulations they might face. Biopac is the leading developer and supplier of eco-friendly disposable food containers in the country. Starting in 2002, the team at Biopac have been working to create the best alternatives to non-biodegradable packaging. Many of the containers are made from cornstarch or sugar cane, so very kind to the environment.

Biopac have an extensive range of containers that are ideal for caterers, takeaways and street food vendors. One of the most appealing benefits of the Biopac products if you’re in the food industry, is that they keep your food fresh, hot and delicious. The traditional polystyrene containers we’ve been using for years trap heat, creating the condensation or “sweat” that makes chips go soggy or salads go limp. The natural fibres in Biopac containers have excellent thermal qualities, meaning the food stays hot, and when the customer opens the takeaway box, the food looks and tastes as nice as when you boxed it up. And for an added bonus, the containers are microwavable and freezable too, so your diners can heat and enjoy leftovers. There’s a full range of options on offer, from the traditional fish and chips and kebab boxes, to containers for every sort of hot and cold food or beverage you can imagine. Whether you serve hot soup or frozen yoghurt, Biopac has a packaging solution for it. They supply napkins, cutlery, plates and kitchen roll too, all from the same natural fibres. The product range is growing by the month, too, so every type of restaurant or food trader can have the best options available for their particular needs.

One thing traders will want to watch out for as they start to investigate alternatives for their packaging needs is products being sold on the market that claim to be eco-friendly but won’t meet the requirements. As Mark Brigden, Technical Director at Biopac, explains: “In reality, these products may be just conventional plastic with an additive that merely breaks the material into fragments. These fragments still take 200 years to disappear. The best way to be certain is to ask your supplier for the relevant certifications.”

Finally, there’s another benefit to be gained from using Biopac containers at your business, and that’s the opportunity to boost your brand’s good name. The British public are increasingly expressing that they want to patronise businesses that use good sustainable practices. Using environmentally friendly packaging shows customers you share their concerns, and can build trust and loyalty amongst your clientele. Biopac even provide custom branding of your logo on containers, carrier bags, cups and napkins, which will promote your business whilst reinforcing the message of sustainability. It’s the kind of added advantage for a small business that you can’t put a price on.

That said, Biopac products don’t cost much more on average than polystyrene catering packaging – but they can add so much value to your business.

If you’d like to read more about Biopac’s innovative line of eco-friendly food service products or check prices, please visit their website at and why not request some samples to try the packaging out for yourself?

Biopac will be on Stand M323 at the Lunch Show 21 & 22 September at The Business Design Centre in London. Or, you can visit Biopac on Stand 720 at the Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation Expo 27 & 28 September at ExCel London.

Click here to view Biopac's range of eco-friendly catering disposables.