Design studio creates bento-style food containers from sustainable materials to rethink takeaway packaging

A sustainable option for restaurant takeaway containers that is reusable and plastic foam-free has been conceptualised by design studio PriestmanGoode, as part of Wallpaper* magazine’s Re-Made project.

The London-based studio has designed a range of bento-style food containers and a bag for takeaway deliveries based on circular design principles.

The new concept features a bento-style stacking system, eliminating the need for individual lids by placing each container on top of the other. The bento box style containers, which halve the amount of packaging required by removing lids, are designed to be transferable between restaurants.

PriestmanGoode researched various food safe materials that are sustainable – everything from commercially available materials made from byproducts, through to low impact materials derived from nature, that will either biodegrade or can be reused.

The bioplastic material used for the bento-style food containers is made from a by-product of the cacao industry. Mycellium was used for insulation, creating a lightweight material ideally suited for insulation in the takeaway
delivery bag.

For the food container and bag handles, a rubber material sourced from FSC-certified plantations was used, while
Piñatex, a natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, was used in the construction of the bag lid.

PriestmanGoode also selected material designer Margarita Talep, who has created algae-based materials to replace
single-use or disposable plastics. These could be used to replace cling-film, which is currently used to prevent spills
while in transit.

The idea behind PriestmanGoode’s takeaway solution is that customers would pay a small fee for the packaging upon ordering the food, which would be reimbursed on their next deliver, when the containers are returned to the delivery service provider. The containers would then be washed by the next restaurant/food provider before being used again.

Online food delivery and takeaway is a market worth over $53 billion a year globally. This is according to figures released in 2019, before the global Covid-19 pandemic. The latter has already affected the takeaway industry, with thousands of restaurants in the UK signing up to delivery platforms since March as the lockdown came into force and they tried to adapt to new revenue models to ensure the survival of their business.

Jo Rowan, Associate Director of Strategy at PriestmanGoode, said: “We began this project before the pandemic took hold, with a goal to design takeaway packaging as a desirable object; create something that customers would value and that would lead to positive changes in behaviour. This has become even more important now, as there has been a rise in at home dining and the concept of ‘tablescaping’ – elaborate, decorative table arrangements – has moved from social events into the home.

“We wanted to re-think food delivery and takeaway in a bid to minimise the environmental impact of convenience culture.”

“It presents an opportunity for design to create something that can contribute to a sense of occasion, that is beautiful, practical and sustainable. As a society, we have to move away from a culture of disposables, and focus on principles of circular economy.”

All Images: PriestmanGoode

PriestmanGoode

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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