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Companies Are Ditching Plastic Packaging for Edible Options and Beyond

Companies are starting to rethink plastic packaging, swapping it out for eco-friendly alternatives—edible options, included.

Written by
Carleigh Preete

It's no secret that plastic packaging is a major environmental problem. It's tough to dispose of and difficult to decompose. But the bright side? Businesses are trading in plastic packaging for more sustainable options due to demand from conscious consumers.

The global green packaging market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% from 2020 to 2028. The market is also expected to reach over $441 billion by 2028—up from 2021's approximate $290 billion.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food and packaging make up about 45% of the materials sent to U.S. landfills. The garbage created by packaging even makes up a majority of the litter that we find on our beaches and in our waterways.

However, plastic-free packaging is becoming more popular as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of single-use plastics. According to the 2021 Global Buying Green Report, 54% of consumers consider sustainable packaging when selecting a product. Specifically, younger consumers—those 44 years and under—are significantly more likely to opt for sustainable packing. About 83% are willing to pay more for it.

It's not just small companies that are taking steps in a more sustainable direction. It's big ones, too. Starbucks, the world-famous coffee chain, has goals to phase out its traditional single-use cups. The company already has initiatives to replace single-use to-go cups with reusable ones.

Last year, Burger King began testing plant-based plastic utensils. The fast food chain also kickstarted new Whopper sandwich wrappers that use 13% and 34% less paper, plant-based straws, and strawless lids, citing goals to cut back on waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and the company's overall carbon footprint.

Other companies making sustainable changes in the packaging department are Chick-fil-A, KFC, and Taco Bell. Chick-fil-A previously adopted recyclable bowls and paper bowls for specific meals. KFC has made commitments to make all plastic-based packaging recoverable or reusable by 2025. And Taco Bell launched a recycling program for its sauce packets last year and has goals to make all customer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025.

However, while many companies are opting for reusable, compostable, and recyclable packaging options, there's still another option we're seeing more of: edible packaging.

Edible packaging is on the rise, from plates and bowls to spoons and cups. Specifically, Cupffee is stepping up to the challenge and creating a single-use alternative to to-go coffee cups. How? By composing ones that are actually 100% edible.

Made from natural ingredients, these edible to-go cups are lightweight and stay crunchy for 40 minutes. You can enjoy your cup of coffee—either iced or hot—and have a crunchy treat at the end without creating any leftover waste.

These solutions, while not mainstream yet, can revolutionize the packaging industry. We're bound to see more edible packaging options as the world's interest in sustainable packaging continues to increase. This means we may also see a decrease in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging options—aka a major win for the environment.