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Material guide: Sustainable plastic alternatives for catering and take-away

Tableware and packaging made of single-use plastic will be banned throughout the EU from 2021. However, there are many areas in the catering industry in particular where the use of disposable tableware is unavoidable or at least offers great advantages. Take-away in particular is in vogue and cannot do without food packaging. That is why there are now various alternatives to conventional disposable tableware and take-away packaging made of plastic.

Einweggeschirr aus alternativen Materialien

Bagasse from sugar cane

Bagasse refers to the fibrous mass that remains when sugar is extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is produced when the sugar juice, which is subsequently processed into granulated sugar, is pressed out of the sugar cane. The production of one ton of sugar thus results in one-third of a ton of bagasse. This is therefore a by-product of sugar production with a wide range of potential uses: On the one hand, the bagasse is returned to the sugar cane fields, where it acts as a natural fertilizer, returning important nutrients to the soil. Secondly, bagasse is used in sugar production as a solid fuel to generate energy. A relatively new use is in the production of packaging and disposable tableware. As a purely bio-based material, bagasse is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic tableware and packaging. The material is compostable, releasing valuable nutrients that enrich the compost product.

angeschnittene Zuckerrohrstangen
gepresste Zuckerrohrstangen
Einweggeschirr aus Bagasse

What are the advantages of bagasse tableware?

  • Waterproof and greaseproof: also suitable for liquid, oily or greasy dishes.
  • Heat and cold resistant: suitable for temperatures from -25°C to 220°C
  • Fat resistant
  • Very stable and robust
  • Fully compostable
  • CO2 neutral disposal

From bagasse to disposable or take-away tableware

  1. the sugar cane fibers are washed to remove short pith fibers and sugar residues.
  2. Bagasse is mixed with water in a blender until a - pulpy mass is obtained.
  3. Natural binders and biodegradable bleaching agents are added.
  4. The pulpy bagasse mass is poured into a mold and pressed under high pressure and high temperature into the particular desired shape.
  5. Done! The plates, bowls and menu trays are ready to be shipped to you and are looking forward to being used in your company.

All compostable products should be disposed of properly - in organic waste! If you dispose of the goods in the residual waste, they are simply burned together with other garbage. Thus, the advantage of compostability is lost. In addition, although products made from compostable materials are biodegradable, they should not simply be disposed of in the environment. The products can degrade, but they need certain environmental conditions to do so. These are only present in industrial composting facilities.


Bamboo is a grass native to tropical areas around the equator. The raw material grows particularly fast - up to one meter per day. As a result, large quantities can be harvested annually without endangering the stock. Bamboo is stable in growth and resistant to environmental influences. This means that no harmful pesticides or fertilizers are required during cultivation.

As a rule, bamboo also does not require artificial irrigation. On the contrary, it contributes to healthy soils, as the branched root systems prevent undesirable soil erosion. The wood is very hard, but also light and flexible, which makes the range of applications very diverse. Bamboo has now also made it under the tableware. In this area, the material scores points for its stability and ease of cleaning. However, many of the bamboo products should be viewed with caution, as they are coated with plastics or decomposed.

saftig grüne Bambusblätter und -stängel

What are the advantages of bamboo tableware and take-away packaging?

  • Light and strong
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Robust


Today, there are hundreds of different types of glass. Traditionally, it consists of quartz sand, lime and soda - and increasingly, waste glass. It is manufactured by melting down and immediately cooling the solids. Glass is a popular packaging material for food and beverages of all kinds. Pickled fruit, vegetables or beverages not only look particularly appetizing through glass packaging.

Glass packaging has another unbeatable advantage over other materials: it preserves flavor and freshness. Unlike plastic, glass does not react with the packaged contents and does not secrete its own ingredients. This makes glass safe for health and therefore an optimal packaging material for food. Health-conscious consumers can rest assured that their food is optimally protected and that nutrients and vitamins are preserved.

The packaging is also absolutely leak-proof, which means that carbon dioxide, for example, cannot escape and food is perfectly preserved. That is why glass is also well suited for take-away reusable packaging. Such glass boxes are usually made of tempered glass and are thus very robust and virtually unbreakable.

And glass also scores points when it comes to disposal: A reusable bottle can be recycled up to 50 times before it is finally returned to the recycling process. Since glass can be 100% recycled, not only are resources conserved, but energy consumption and CO2 emissions are also halved.

gedünsteter Fisch auf Nudeln und Tomaten in Glasauflaufformen

What are the advantages of glass tableware and take-away packaging?

  • Tasteless
  • Gas tight
  • Heat resistant
  • Dishwasher safe
Did you know?

Contrary to a widespread myth, used glass is not mixed again when the containers are collected, but is taken away separately. The correct separation is therefore sensible in any case! Red and blue glass belongs in the green glass container.

Paper, cardboard and paperboard

Paper, cardboard and paperboard are among the most commonly used packaging materials. Kraft paper is also particularly popular: this type of paper is very stable and is over 90 percent decomposed after 80 days. After six months, even the smallest particles have decomposed.

Kraft paper, board and cardboard are made from cellulose fibers of the raw material wood and increasingly also from recycled paper or cardboard. They are very inexpensive packaging materials. Paper plates, cups and take-away packaging are usually provided with an additional inner coating of PLA.

For environmental and cost reasons, more than 70% of paper is now recycled. 90% of all cartons are made with the addition of recycled paper. Much food packaging is also made from recycled paper. Recycling means that no new wood has to be cut down, and water and energy consumption are also significantly lower.

gedünsteter Fisch auf Nudeln mit Tomaten in Pappe-Einwegbox

What are the advantages of tableware and take-away packaging made of cardboard and paper?

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Good printability
  • Recyclable
  • Made from renewable raw materials
Our tip

Consciously use products made of recycled paper and make sure that you dispose of the waste paper correctly so as not to interrupt the recycling cycle. At LUSINI, in addition to paper plates, you will also find organic napkins and take-away packaging made of paper.

Palm leaf

For the production of palm leaf tableware, the fallen leaves of the betanus palm are used. The palm tree grows in the Indomalaysian region and drops its leaves several times a year. The collected palm leaves are then pressed into the shape of plates and bowls with the help of steam and without chemicals. Since the leaves fall several times a year anyway, the palm tree is not harmed in the raw material extraction process.

The unique structure of each palm leaf makes each palm leaf plate and bowl unique. Products made of palm leaf consist entirely of natural raw materials, as no additives are used. Disposal is via organic waste and is therefore CO2 neutral. Products made of palm leaf are very stable and durable, heat and cold resistant and can be used in the microwave, as well as in the oven.

hochgewachsene Palmen bei strahlend blauem Himmel
Closeup eines gepressten Palmblattes
Teller und Schale aus gepressten Palmblättern

From palm leaf to disposable tableware

  1. Palm leaves are sorted by quality and washed.
  2. With the help of hydraulic presses and heat, a whole 3. leaf is pressed into its desired shape.
  3. The edges are smoothed and the surface polished.
  4. Finish! The products are ready for use.

What are the advantages of palm leaf tableware and take-away packaging made from palm leaf?

  • Stable
  • Water repellent
  • Heat and cold resistant
  • Biodegradable


Reed is the new trend in drinking straws. Reed has the advantage of being particularly elastic and is therefore less brittle. Such drinking straws are a stylish alternative to plastic straws and add an unusual touch to cocktails.

What are the advantages of reed?

  • Stable and unbreakable
  • Neutral in taste
  • Reusable and suitable for dishwashers
  • Biodegradable


Disposable wooden tableware looks beautiful and is a good alternative to traditional plastic tableware. The tableware is made without additives and can therefore be composted after use. The structure is very changeable and stable and therefore offers a wide variety of products. However, the material is only truly sustainable if the trees come from sustainable forestry. The forest habitat and tree populations are treated with care here. Wooden packaging is also often a good alternative. Pallets and boxes made of wood have good stability in relation to their own weight and a very long service life. It is resistant to temperature and humidity, so longer storage periods are no problem. In addition, it is easy and quick to process and can be adapted to individual requirements. Meanwhile, it is also possible to produce tableware from sawdust. The main ingredient is wood flour, which is filtered and cleaned during wood processing. With natural additives, the property of the material is improved.

Besteck aus Holz dekorativ in einem Körbchen angerichtet

What are the advantages of wood?

  • Tasteless
  • Stable
  • Compostable


rPet is made from recycled disposable plastic bottles. This conserves resources. Thanks to rPET, recycling loops are closed and recycling quotas are met. Depending on the production process, rPET has a more than 70% better CO2 footprint compared to virgin plastic. Products made from rPET are heat-resistant up to 70°C.


PLA is short for Polylactide Acid or colloquially polylactic acid. It is a bioplastic because the material consists entirely of natural resources. Fermentation processes in starch-containing plants produce lactic acids, which can be formed into granules in further processes. The plastic is then produced from this granulate. CPLA, i.e. crystallized PLA, is obtained in almost exactly the same way. Talc powder is also added to the lactic acids, which causes the PLA to crystallize. As a reaction to the talc powder, the CPLA becomes opaque, harder and more heat-resistant than PLA.

The organic plastic PLA consists of natural resources, is biodegradable, compostable and suitable for contact with food. The bioplastic scores with a high transparency and strength and therefore comes very close to normal plastic. The range of PLA- products is very diverse, especially in the take-away sector.

CPLA is opaque and has a heat resistance of up to 85°C. This makes this material particularly suitable for the production of cutlery or lids for hot beverage cups. The bioplastic is referred to as a sustainable packaging material because it is made from renewable raw materials and thus offers a way to conserve fossil - non-renewable - raw materials and become independent of them.

knackiger Salat in einer verschließbaren Bioplastik-Verpackung

What are the advantages of tableware and take-away packaging made from PLA?

  • Compostable
  • High transparency
  • Water vapor permeable: preserves the flavor of foods
  • Stable and solid

What are the advantages of tableware and take-away packaging made of CPLA?

  • Heat resistant up to 85°C
  • Opaque
  • Biodegradable