Paper Matters Blog
Unwrapping the Facts Behind Food Packaging

In a normal year, life’s frantic pace can make it difficult to think about the things we would like to change for ourselves or others. Daily, unavoidable issues are addressed, but there are a plethora of important topics that fly under the radar until something makes us take notice. Well, time may stop for no man; however, it sure slowed down for a pandemic. We don’t need to rehash what the last few years have been like, but one positive that emerged from quarantine was the amount of attention that people started to pay to food packaging.

Think of your favorite on-the-go meal. Maybe it’s a thick, juicy burger and a side of delicious, crispy fries. Perhaps it’s a foot-long sub loaded with fresh ingredients. Or, maybe you long for a heaping burrito bowl, tortilla chips and queso. Let me guess—your food-induced reverie didn’t include the way it was wrapped?

Food packaging tends to be the last thing on a hungry consumer’s mind when they stop at their favorite quick-service restaurant. Whether it’s Mcdonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Chipotle or Subway, does the wrapping on the item really matter?

As a matter of fact, it does.

Whether it was the truckloads of takeout that were consumed or the increased spotlight on our environment and sustainable practices, consumers began taking note of the wrapper that they just discarded instead of just the sandwich inside and we did, too.

Small Package, Large Demand

According to a study conducted by Invisibly, an AI-driven data firm, 44%, or nearly half of all participants polled, reported using home delivery since the beginning of the pandemic and that number leaps to 59% in younger demographics. Additionally, the National Restaurant Association shares that, based on a recent study, almost 70% of American adults are now more likely to order takeout than they were pre-pandemic, and consequently, 80% of the fine dining and casual restaurant owners polled reported enhancing their takeout options to keep up with the increased demand. To put it simply, data is showing that the demand for fast-food and convenience items exploded over the last few years and as a result, so has the need for single-use foodservice products in the United States. The usage of items like take-out containers and sandwich wrap is forecasted to rise 3.4% annually up to as much as $24.4 billion in 2023, with 40% of the consumption coming from quick-service restaurants.

Unwrapping the Facts

Sustainable food packaging hasn’t always been a conversation, but the global demand of the foodservice packaging market is creating one.

So, what’s the deal with sustainable food packaging? Well, it’s popularly defined as the use of packaging that seeks to reduce environmental impact throughout its life cycle while maintaining food safety and quality.  This life cycle of food or hospitality packaging includes:

  • Sourcing materials
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Disposal

Now, most restaurants encourage recycling the food packaging that comes with their meals.  Burger wraps rarely generate the same type of attention that office printing does! These factors help create a positive environmental image of food packaging for consumers, but for Domtar, it’s about more than just an image.

At Domtar, our investment in sustainability is rooted in responsibility, efficiency and engagement and our packaging is no exception. Domtar’s foodservice papers deliver sustainable, high-performance solutions to meet the most demanding food industry needs. Our offerings include:

  • Chip Bags
    • This FDA-compliant product is engineered to avoid grease stains after handling products like chips
  • Eco Straws
    • Domtar’s fiber-based solution for paper straws provides consumers with a more environmentally friendly option than single-use plastic straws
  • Bakery Papers
    • Domtar’s bakery papers—used to make baking cups—come in white, blue, pink and yellow providing a variety for delicious treats.
  • To Go Bags
    • Whether picking up dinner on the way home or grabbing a snack on the go, Domtar’s take-out bags are a sustainable way to keep your food fresh.
  • Food Wrap
    • Engineered for grease resistance, our wide range of fast-food packaging papers are known for their versatility and functionality.

Not only does all the food packaging paper produced by Domtar—and we produce more than 100,000 tons of it each year—comply with guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental regulating agencies, but it also must meet the Domtar standard for our sustainability goals as well.

So, the next time you stop at your favorite quick-service restaurant or unwrap a snack at home, look at the wrapper before you take a bite. There’s more to your food packaging than meets the eye.

Download the latest edition of Paper Matters Magazine to learn more about sustainable food packaging. Visit paper.domtar.com/blog for more on the advancements in the paper and print industry.

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Contributors

Vanecia Carr
Sr. Director Marketing Product & Management
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist