Using plastic packaging in the food and beverage industry is falling by the wayside. Not only are companies realizing the environmental impact of single-use plastic, but they’re responding to their consumers’ heightened sense of environmental responsibility.

Consumers relying on brands to drive change

As consumers become more educated about the benefits of sustainable practices in the food industry, they look to brands to drive widespread change.

  • In a recent survey, one-third of Americans reported favoring a tax on plastic food packaging, and 38% said they’d be more likely to shop in stores selling fruits and vegetables sans plastic.
  • Unilever conducted a study revealing a third of consumers now buy from brands based on their social and environmental impact.
  • Millennials have finally surpassed Baby Boomers in regards to buying power. By 2020, the generation is expected to have $1.4 trillion in spending power. And 80% of those Millennials are correlating purchase decisions with corporate responsibility.

Industry leaders taking matters into their own hands

Although consumers are becoming more aware and supportive of sustainable packaging, bans and taxes on single-use plastic (e.g., bags) are currently limited to a few cities and states. However, there are plenty of food and beverage companies taking matters into their own hands.

Here are some of the companies leading the way to reduce or completely eliminate the use of plastic packaging.

Boxed Water Is Better — Boxes used for this company’s water is a sustainable alternative to plastic bottles. Their boxes are shipped flat and are 100% recyclable and BPA free. Boxed Water Is Better sources the paper used in the boxes from sustainably managed forests.

Whole Foods — Ten years ago, Whole Foods eliminated single-use plastic bags at checkout. As an alternative, the food retailer uses 100% post-consumer recycled-content paper bags. Whole Foods is also in the process of phasing out plastic and paper prepared-food containers and replacing them with compostable fiber packaging.

McDonald’s — This past June, McDonald’s announced they will be testing plastic straw alternatives throughout the U.S. starting at the end of 2018. Further, the fast food giant vowed to completely phase out plastic straws at every U.K. location by 2019.

Starbucks — In a sweeping statement in July, Starbucks committed to eliminating plastic straws in their 28,000 stores by 2020. Straws will be replaced by recyclable (yet still plastic) lids and alternative-material straw options. Previously, the coffee conglomerate announced they’re developing a recyclable, compostable single-use cup solution in partnership with Closed Loop Partners.

Aramark — Aramark is a global leader in foodservice, serving up over 2 billion meals across 19 countries each year. And in July, the industry giant announced they’ll phase out not only plastic straws, but all single-use plastics. This includes stirrers, bags, cutlery, and other packaging material. Aramark is aiming to reduce plastic straw use by 60% by 2020 — that’s 100 million fewer straws being used.

Following in the footsteps of these food and beverage industries by responsibly reducing plastic usage is good for the environment, and good for business.

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