Innovate Blog
The sustainable attributes of RPET foodservice packaging

Wednesday July 18, 2018

As part of its Sustainable Future programme, Bunzl Catering Supplies has taken a lead on communicating fact-based information on sustainability to its customers in the catering and hospitality industry. This includes informed recommendations on product material types that currently have the most environmental merit in their product category.


One material that is often used in foodservice packaging, and is highly regarded as a sustainable material type, is RPET plastic. RPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled PET. PET is a strong, durable and recyclable material that is widely used in foodservice as disposable water bottles, tumblers, salad containers and sandwich packaging.

What is so significant about RPET is that not only does it contain recycled material – it is also 100 per cent recyclable.  So, products made with RPET can have a second, third and fourth life, and so on.

PET is currently the only plastic material that can be recycled back into food grade material.  What this means is that plastic tumblers can be recycled back into plastic tumblers, and salad bowls back into salad bowls.

For consumers grabbing lunch on the go from an RPET salad container, it’s comforting to know that once they’re finished with the packaging it can be fully recycled. Every RPET foodservice product that is given a second life saves raw materials, reduces waste and creates a better environment.

For customers choosing RPET, it’s important they understand the importance of minimising food contamination to ensure the material can be recycled.

Due to its value, PET and RPET is the most widely recycled material in Europe. According to a UK household plastics collection survey in 2017, PET is recycled by 99 per cent of local authorities in the UK.  Once PET and RPET has been collected, sorted and recycled, it’s refined into flakes that can be turned into new products made from RPET.

RPET has a lower carbon footprint than virgin PET. It is also lightweight compared to other packaging, for example it is up to 85 per cent lighter than glass. This helps cut transportation costs, in-turn lowering CO2 emissions. Both food safe and shatterproof, RPET provides hygiene and safety in the supply chain, and most importantly the foodservice environment.

Many major brands worldwide are committed to using RPET to reduce the carbon footprint of their drink products. Some of these include Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters, PepsiCo, Danone and many more.

Two partner suppliers of Bunzl Catering Supplies, Huhtamaki and Dart Products Europe, have been successfully manufacturing RPET products for the foodservice industry for some time.

RPET Polarity Tumblers from Huhtamaki

Recently, Huhtamaki has increased its recycled content for its RPET Polarity Tumblers range to a minimum of 50 per cent. RPET Polarity tumblers are a range of tumblers and lids which are clear, crack-resistant and shatterproof, available in a range of sizes, with the option of flat or domed lids. Plain, or in the popular Enjoy design, RPET Polarity Tumblers are perfect for a range of fresh, vibrant and modern drinks such as freshly squeezed juices, frappes, smoothies and juices. They are also great for serving a range of cold snacks, breakfast pots, fruit and sweet treats.

 RPET Olivine and DeliLite containers and lids from Dart Products Europe

RPET cold food containers and lids from Dart Products Europe, branded Olivine and DeliLite, provide consumers in the foodservice industry a great choice of packaging for a wide variety of cold dishes, including salad and fruit, and deli style offerings like hummus and olives.

The unique shape of the RPET Olivine containers maximise food portion perception and visibility, and the flat-topped dome lid is designed to be easily stackable.

RPET DeliLite containers and lids offer a firm lid fit, reducing the risk of leakages and keeping the contents fresh. Crack resistant, oil resistant and with crystal clear clarity, RPET DeliLite containers are suitable for a wide variety of dressed foods.

Bunzl Catering Supplies offer wide choice of food packaging

In addition to RPET, Bunzl Catering Supplies offers its customers a wide variety of food packaging products in many other material options, both recyclable and compostable. When making a recommendation to customers on what material types best suit their sustainability goals, a customer’s in-house waste stream will play a very important part.

Sustainable packaging begins with increased awareness and the desire to be material responsible. To understand the impact of disposable foodservice packaging, it is important to have a strong grasp on the materials involved and their possible after-life solutions.

Being both recycled and widely recyclable, RPET boasts some excellent sustainability credentials, great for customers who require practical, disposable foodservice products which contain recycled content but can also be recycled at their end-of-life.

View our complete range of Disposables and Food Packaging online.

For more information on sustainable material types in specific product categories, look at our Sustainable Future product factsheets on Straws, Cups and Sandwich Packaging.