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Compostable vs. Recyclable Packaging: Making Informed Choices for Your Restaurant


In the evolving landscape of sustainable practices, restaurants are increasingly faced with decisions about the best types of packaging to reduce their environmental impact. At YES Group, we understand the importance of navigating these choices wisely. Compostable and recyclable packaging each offer unique benefits and considerations. Here’s a comprehensive look at both options to help you make informed decisions for your restaurant.

Understanding Compostable Packaging

Compostable packaging is designed to break down into natural elements within a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. This type of packaging typically consists of materials derived from plant-based products like corn starch, sugarcane, or potato starch. Compostable items are particularly beneficial because they return nutrients to the earth and reduce landfill waste. However, they require specific conditions to decompose effectively, which can only be provided by industrial composting facilities. It’s crucial for restaurants using compostable packaging to ensure that their customers have access to organic waste bins or local composting services that can process these materials properly.

The Role of Recyclable Packaging

Recyclable packaging, made from materials like paper, cardboard, glass, and certain types of plastic, is designed to be reused and remade into new products. Recycling helps reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, decreases energy usage, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and conserves natural resources. However, the effectiveness of recycling depends significantly on the proper sorting and contamination-free disposal by consumers. Additionally, not all plastics labelled as recyclable are accepted by local curbside programs, which can confuse consumers and potentially lead to recyclables ending up in landfills.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Packaging

Local Infrastructure: Assess the availability of composting and recycling facilities in your area. The effectiveness of choosing compostable or recyclable packaging largely depends on local infrastructure capable of processing these materials.

Customer Base: Consider your customer base and their likely behaviour. Are they environmentally conscious? Would they be likely to compost or recycle appropriately? Education through in-restaurant signage and on packaging can play a significant role in encouraging proper disposal.

Product Suitability: Examine the nature of your products. Some food items, particularly those that are moist or greasy, may not be suitable for certain types of recyclable packaging but might be well suited to compostable options.

Cost Considerations: Typically, compostable packaging can be more expensive than recyclable options, although prices have been decreasing as demand grows and technology improves. Evaluate the cost impact on your business and consider whether this could be offset by the marketing benefits of adopting greener practices.

Advantages and Challenges

Compostable Packaging:

  • Advantages: Reduces landfill waste, suitable for zero-waste programs, and improves soil health when properly composted.
  • Challenges: Higher costs, requires industrial composting facilities, and limited shelf life of materials.

Recyclable Packaging:

  • Advantages: Reduces demand for new raw materials, widely understood and accepted by consumers, and often cheaper than compostable alternatives.
  • Challenges: Contamination issues, limited recycling for some plastics, and dependent on local recycling capabilities.


Making the right choice between compostable and recyclable packaging for your restaurant involves a careful analysis of your specific circumstances and goals. At YES Group, we are here to help guide you through these decisions with our expert knowledge and a wide range of sustainable packaging solutions. By choosing the right eco-friendly packaging, your restaurant can significantly impact reducing environmental impact while also aligning with the values of your customers. Contact us today to explore how we can assist in making your packaging choices both sustainable and successful.