A snack-packed picnic is a staple of the Australian summer, but packaging the food safely usually involves plastic. Here’s our guide to the latest paper products for your outdoor food and drink.
OK, so you may not be jetting off this summer without a series of expensive tests and four-hour airport queues when you get back. But there’s nothing to stop you from gathering the family, making a few sandwiches, and heading to your favourite picnic spot for some outdoor fun.
But while making the food isn’t too much of a problem, protecting it and keeping it cool in environmentally friendly packaging is. Having a plastic-free picnic is a tough task, especially when the weather in the some parts can go from tropical to torrential in just a few minutes.
So to help you have an eco-friendly picnic, we’ve created a guide to outdoor eating using paper rather than plastic.
The sandwich bag – or worse, clingfilm – has long been a summer source of waste plastic, but a series of new innovations has meant there are now a number of paper-based alternatives on the market. Top of the list is the beeswax wrap, which is reusable, biodegradable, antibacterial, and available in a vast range of colours and patterns, and now available at supermarkets in Australia.
However, if you prefer your sandwich to be packed in something more traditional, you can now buy biodegradable zip lock bags, which are resealable, and biodegradable as well as recyclable with other soft plastics.
The packaging company DS Smith has teamed up with Vig Pak LLC to create a 100% recyclable and biodegradable cooler that incorporates some of the most modern technologies available in corrugated cardboard packaging. The ‘Brrr Box’ uses DS Smith’s Greencoat technology which, unlike Styrofoam-based coolers, is biodegradable and made of sustainable and renewable fibre. And while not yet available in Australia, it’s always interesting to have an eye on the future, and the possibilities.
“Greencoat was launched 13 years ago as a revolutionary product created to survive the harsh poultry shipping supply chain and has since been adopted by a number of other markets,” says Melanie Galloway, Sales, Marketing and Innovation director at DS Smith Packaging North America. “Brrr Box is a natural extension of the product line that’s ideal for consumers looking for an eco-friendly, durable way to transport ice and cold beverages.”
Since there are no end of resusable metal or glass water bottles on the market, this category should be one of the easier ones. But water bottles made from metal or glass are heavy when full and can be expensive, so try one of a number of paper-based resusable water bottles, such as FrugalPac’s Frugal bottle. Made from 94% recycled paperboard, the bottle is up to five times lighter than a glass bottle, has a carbon footprint up to six times lower, and is easy to recycle. Oh, and make sure all your straws are paper too.
And if it rains…
…there’s always McDonald’s. The fast food giant plans to make all its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, as well as offering recycling in all its restaurants. “As the world’s largest restaurant company, we have a responsibility to use our scale for good to make changes that will have a meaningful impact across the globe,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer. “Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address.”
Good old Macca’s has already reduced their plastic use in Australia by 868 tonnes.
Until then, make sure you have a good picnic umbrella – wooden of course.