Traditional seaside fare inevitably includes hot and fast takeaway food delivered in disposable containers with single use cutlery. Where once layers of newspaper kept fish and chip meals hot, now we are most likely to encounter clam-shell containers and trays made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) (1) or its biodegradable and compostable alternative, bagasse.
EPS provides an inexpensive, lightweight and heat retaining material solution to delivering hot food and drinks. It has its origins in the mid-20th century when American company DART developed their first disposable hot drinks cup (2). However, EPS containers are often not financially viable to recycle. They are unavoidably contaminated with food waste rendering them unrecyclable and so may end up in landfill, or worse still, littering the environment.
Driven by consumer demand and an awareness that an alternative must be found, there has been a move towards the use of containers made from bio-mass materials such as bagasse, a by-product of the sugar industry (3 - 5). This material can be moulded using heat and pressure to produce a sustainable product. It has good thermal properties and is water and grease resistant, but it too poses challenges to the recycling industry. It is industrially compostable but successful collection and recycling depends on appropriate local infrastructure. However, it is an important step towards sustainability and bagasse is now widely used.
Disposable cutlery, previously made from polystyrene, is now often made from crystallized polylactic acid (CPLA), a material derived from plant sugars (6 - 7). It has the same properties as PS, being lightweight, relatively strong, and inexpensive to produce, but it has a lower environmental impact being biodegradable and does not emit toxic fumes if incinerated.
Reinforcing the reduce, reuse, recycle message, Bocketech have developed the reusable and recyclable Corretto take-out cup (8 - 10), made with the unique EcoCore™ foam walls. Made from polypropylene it offers a product that uses up to 70% less material than comparable cups whilst offering excellent thermal protection and rigidity.