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Lithuanians develop completely plastic-free takeaway package

Citizens, researchers and companies from Kaunas created an innovative takeaway box during a joint workshop. Credit: KTU

Takeaway food has become an integral part of our lives. However, despite the convenience of such a service, frequent users have to face its drawbacks: the content of the food can be accidentally spilled, the food gets cold, and the package does not always fit the portion size. Researchers at Kaunas University of Technology, together with businesses and citizens, have created a takeaway box that solves all these problems and is completely plastic-free.

“The citizens of Kaunas, with the help of professionals in their field and guided by scientists, are starting a real revolution in the world of takeaway food. Everyone can create innovations,” says Aelita ZabulionÄ—, junior researcher at the Kaunas Food Institute. Kaunas University of Technology. (KTU), Lithuania.

During the lab session organized by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT FOOD) food community, citizens tried to discover the shortcomings of currently used takeaway packaging.

In the workshop, they were working together with packaging experts from the “Spaudos departments” and the representatives of a restaurant “Daugirdas” located in Kaunas, Lithuania.

During this session, the idea was born: to co-create solutions that would eliminate the shortcomings of ordinary takeaway packaging.

Citizens contributed to the creative process

The start of the project was a three-course dinner attended by a group of 16 people, whose ages ranged from 22 to 60 years old. Over dinner, people evaluated their food packaging and shared their insights.

The plastic containers used during dinner perfectly reflected the typical shortcomings of take-out boxes. First of all, it was difficult to adapt the package to a certain size. Second, the parts of the food were not well separated from each other. Lastly, it was not clear how to dispose of the used pack: wash it, recycle it, or throw it away with household waste.

Over dinner, participants shared their experience that even after the simplest business lunch, an impressive pile of packaging remains in the office that would later end up in landfills for hundreds of years. Therefore, the most essential part of the project was the search for sustainable packaging materials.

The main complaint of the participants was the incorrect temperature of the food. Considering various food delivery companies operating in the city using different transportation equipment, it was decided that it is almost impossible to expect to receive steamed hot food.

Therefore, the project participants indicated the need to create a package in which food, prepared in a slow and nutrient-sparing way, could be easily heated at home, without the need to transfer it from the package. For this, cardboard is the most suitable material.

Food in cardboard boxes can be heated in the oven

Cardboard can be recycled up to six times, and after applying a certain processing method, it is possible to compose a cardboard package that can withstand heating in the oven.

This type of cardboard is covered with a special non-flammable material, which occupies less than 10 percent of the weight. In addition, the designed containers have specially adapted inserts, tabs that allow you to easily adjust the size of the box and separate the necessary components of food.

The boxes designed during the workshop come in three sizes, allowing for a more economical and sustainable use of resources and making the packaging adaptable to different meals. To preserve the aesthetic appearance of the food during transport, a special cover was created that keeps the boxes in place, preventing them from rolling and moving. The cover weighs less than a normal paper bag.

At the request of the consumer, clear instructions are printed on the packages containing information on how they should be recycled, how long and to what temperature they can be heated.

“There is also a special support frame that prevents the lid from bending and ruining the wonderful view of a restaurant masterpiece – after all, we also eat with our eyes,” says the KTU ZabulionÄ— researcher.

This innovation benefits not only the consumer but also the restaurant. The cardboard is perfectly suited to various types of printing: the restaurant logo or other important information can be displayed on the boxes.

In addition, the containers have been designed in such a way that when they are empty they fit easily together and save storage space. After the package is used, it can be sent for recycling or composting.

“Soon, these boxes, created by Lithuanian consumers and businesses, will be one of the packaging options when ordering food delivery,” says ZabulionÄ—.

VTT develops transparent cellulose film to replace traditional plastic in food packaging

Provided by Kaunas University of Technology

quotes: Lithuanians develop takeaway package that is completely plastic-free (2022, Aug 29) Retrieved Aug 29, 2022 from

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