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Hospitality and recreation

Companies in the hospitality and recreation industry provide food and beverages for consumption outside the home and include cafes, lunchrooms and restaurants, kiosks and petrol stations, and recreational and amusement parks. With the ban on disposable plastics, the industry is hard at work to find sustainable alternatives. These industries are characterised by, among other things, many small items, such as disposables and packaging, that cannot be easily collected and recycled.

Trends and challenges

The main developments affecting packaging in this industry are:

  • Companies often do not have control over waste disposal. Products are consumed on the go. There is a high risk of littering.Communicate on the packaging in which bin it belongs. Provide sufficient litter bins in and around the point of sale and clear up litter. When designing the packaging, take the use phase into account. Are there any packaging components that easily end up in nature? In that case, check whether adjustments to the design can reduce the risk of litter. For tips and inspiration, view this infographic (only available in Dutch). 
  • Collected materials are often contaminated and therefore difficult to recycle.If food residues remain in the packaging after consumption, this can disrupt the recycling process. If, for example, fatty products and sauces are packaged in paper, these fats are absorbed into the paper and the paper is no longer easy to recycle. Or if consumers press packs of different materials together, these materials are difficult to distinguish from each other in the sorting process. There are more and more developments and innovations in separation and sorting techniques. Talk to your waste collector or processor to discuss the possibilities of improving the recycling of your packaging.
  • The emergence of alternatives to plastic, such as paper, cardboard, bamboo, and biobased and/or biodegradable plastics, such as PLA.
    In order to use less fossil raw materials, especially plastics, more companies are switching to renewable materials, also known as biobased materials. Paper and cardboard are well-known biobased packaging materials, but there are also fairly new examples, such as the use of elephant grass or residual products from tomato plants. There are different types of biobased plastics. Some have the same molecular structure as fossil-based plastics. These biobased plastics can be mixed with fossil plastics in recycling and have the same properties, such as melting temperature or air permeability. An example of this is bio-PE, which is made from sugar cane and is used in HDPE bottles, among other things.There are also plastics made from renewable raw materials that have a different molecular structure than the conventional fossil plastics. They therefore have other properties. Examples are PLA and starch. 

    PLA is used as a coating in paper drinking cups or to make plastic drinking cups. These plastics cannot be recycled with the regular plastic. However, some situations lend themselves to setting up a closed collection system for these cups. For example, at a festival, the PLA plastic cups can be processed in bulk after the festival. If the volume is not large enough, it is interesting to explore whether a larger volume can be collected together with other organisations with the same waste flows.

    The KIDV investigated how discarded coffee cups and other disposable paper cups can best be collected and recycled. Read more about the research here (only available in Dutch).
  • Consumers' need for convenience (convenience economy) is leading to more packaging.Make consumers aware of the use of potentially unnecessary packaging materials at the point of sale. Do not automatically put a lid on a drinking cup or a fork and knife with a meal. Let the consumer choose and avoid the unnecessary use of extra (packaging) materials.
  • Society’s resistance to littering and plastic soup is growing and is mainly expressed through a reluctance to use (single-use) plastic.
    The European Commission has drawn up a directive on the use of a number of single-use plastic products and packaging. Read on the page about European laws and regulations, to which packaging this applies (only available in Dutch). The sector association KHN (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland) has developed an infographic for small cafeteria owners, describing what the Single Use Plastics Directive means for these companies. You can read more about the Single Use Plastics Directive on our dossiers page (only available in Dutch). 
  • Greater reuse of packaging materials.One of the potential solutions to make packaging more sustainable is to look from single use to multiple use. The more often such packaging is used, the lower the environmental impact and the more beneficial multiple use is compared to single use packaging. It is also interesting for companies that provide takeaway meals to explore the possibility of reusable packaging. KIDV has started a Community of Practice on Reusable Packaging in which the opportunities and challenges of reusable packaging are discussed. Planet Reuse is doing this at the European level. In addition, there are a number of start-ups that have developed reusable packaging for meals. Curious about these innovations? Then click here.

Getting started with sustainable packaging

Anyone who starts working with sustainable packaging will often quickly discover that there is more to it than just using less or different material. To develop successful sustainable packaging, you have to look at the packaging process and logistics, at customers’ purchasing and disposal behaviour, and at your company’s packaging and sustainability strategy. For more information and tips, visit the KIDV Five Perspectives on Sustainable Packaging.

A group of leading companies in the out-of-home industry has drawn up the 2019-2022 Industry Plan for Sustainable Packaging for the out-of-home industry in close cooperation with KIDV. The plan sets out ambitions, objectives, and concrete measures to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, such as by using less material in packaging and by making packaging fully recyclable and reusable.

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