The Ultimate Guide To Food Delivery Packaging in 2023

Today I will show you everything you need to know about food delivery packaging. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • Six best food delivery materials for packaging
  • 3 types of food packaging to avoid
  • Important factors in choosing food packaging 
  • Tips for safe food delivery

Let’s dive in

What Is the Best Material for Food Delivery?

There are six common materials for food delivery

Here is the list

  1. Paper and cardboard
  2. Plastic

  3. Bioplastic packaging

  4. Aluminum packaging

  5. Glass

  6. Biodegradable packaging (sugarcane or bagasse)

Paper and Cardboard

Paper and cardboard are ideal for food delivery in 2023 and beyond due to their numerous benefits.

According to 360 Research Reports 2023, the global paper and paperboard packaging market is projected to reach USD 224740 million by 2028, with a 2.9% CAGR from 2022, impacted by COVID-19. 


Firstly, consumers’ growing preference for biodegradable products is a key driver behind the growth.

Cardboard and paper take about 2-5 months for complete degradation.  

For example, a cardboard pizza box/paper bag will fully decompose in 2-5 months, leaving no harmful environmental residues.

Easy Recycling

The paper stands as one of the most easily recyclable materials worldwide. 

In 2018, paper and paperboard accounted for ~67% of the total MSW recycled in the U.S., outperforming other materials.

This means >1/3 of paper utilized in the U.S. is recycled and converted into sustainable products.

Safe to Microwave

Paper and cardboard takeaway boxes are mostly safe to microwave.

However, it greatly depends on the paper type and box coatings (if any)

For example, paper towels, wax paper, parchment paper, paper plates, and bowls are safe for use in the microwave.

This makes them ideal for reheating food without risking the health of customers. 


You shouldn’t microwave these boxes for >1-2 minutes.


  • 400°F cardboard can be flammable for prolonged microwave
  • Coatings (if any) can release their chemicals in food. 

Pro tip: Avoid microwaving cardboard food containers unless labeled microwave-safe, as they may contain plastic or wax coatings.



Plastic will emerge as the leading material for food delivery in 2023.

The global plastic packaging market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1%, reaching 385.5 billion USD by 2028 from 265.2 billion USD in 2022.


Because its advantageous properties and widespread usage contribute to its prominence in this domain!


Plastic containers provide excellent durability and protective capabilities.

This ensures the safe transportation of food.

They are resistant to impact, preventing damage or spillage during delivery.

This sturdiness is crucial when handling hot or liquid items, where plastic’s strength and leak-proof nature are highly valued.

For example, 90% of plastic food containers can maintain structural integrity even after multiple impacts or drops.



Plastic offers superior insulation properties.

This help maintain the desired temperature of the food.

The insulation level differs based on the plastic type.

For example, PET, P.P., and PLA are insulation levels are ~120°F, -4-266℉, and ~140℉, respectively. 

So, plastic containers can effectively retain heat or coldness, whether hot or cold.

And the meal arrives at the customer’s doorstep in optimal condition.


Plastic containers are lightweight, providing convenience for delivery personnel and customers.

This reduces package weight, making handling easier and potentially lowering transportation costs.

For example, glass yogurt pots weigh 85g, while plastic pots weigh 5.5g.

Thus, glass jars occupy 36% of a lorry’s load, but plastic pouches account for only 3.56%.

So, to transport the same yogurt quantity, three trucks are needed for glass pots, but only two for plastic pots.

ice cream cup

Bioplastic Packaging

According to Grand View Research, the global bioplastic packaging market was valued at USD 12.4 billion in 2021, with a projected 16.9% CAGR from 2022 to 2030.

In 2023, bioplastic packaging is the top choice for food delivery due to its many advantages:


Firstly, bioplastic packaging is eco-friendly and 100% sustainable. 

It is derived from renewable resources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating environmental impact. 

For example, bioplastic packaging from cornstarch or sugarcane pulp reduces emissions and non-renewable resource use.

Bioplastic packaging contributes to a greener and more sustainable future for food delivery.


Secondly, bioplastic packaging is biodegradable and compostable. 

It can break down into natural elements, minimizing its impact on landfills and ecosystems. 

The bioplastic takes about 3-6 months to degrade completely. 

This is particularly important in food delivery, where single-use packaging can contribute to waste accumulation. 

Bioplastic packaging reduces waste and encourages responsible disposal practices.

For instance, a bioplastic food container used for delivery can be composted with food scraps, creating nutrient-rich soil for future use

Protective Properties

Bioplastic packaging maintains the necessary functionality and performance required for food delivery. 

It offers excellent barrier properties, protecting food from moisture, oxygen, and contaminants. 

Bioplastic containers securely hold hot meals to cold desserts, keeping food fresh and safe during transportation.

This functionality is essential in ensuring customer satisfaction and upholding food quality standards.

Aluminum Packaging

Fact. M.R.’s May 2023 report forecasts that the global aluminum packaging market will reach US$ 26.7 billion by the end of 2022, with a 5.3% CAGR from 2022 to 2032.

It is because aluminum offers a multitude of benefits;


Although aluminum packaging takes about 200-500 years to degrade.

However, aluminum packaging is highly recyclable, making it an environmentally friendly option for food deliveries.

According to APC Packaging innovation and engineering director Robert Bulla, aluminum is endlessly recyclable,”.

That’s why aluminum accounted for only 1.3 % of total municipal solid waste in 2018. 

And 35% of that waste was recycled, according to Environmental Protection Agency data

Microwave Safe

Aluminum packaging is microwave safe, making it an ideal choice for food deliveries. 

Aluminum packaging can withstand about 400°F, eliminating the need to transfer food to separate microwave-safe containers for reheating.

For example, customers receiving an aluminum-packaged meal can directly microwave the package, eliminating the need for extra dishes and hassle

Insulation Properties

Another advantage is its superior insulation properties.

Aluminum effectively acts as a barrier against heat, moisture, and light.

This shields the food from external elements that can compromise its quality. 

For example, a typical aluminum packaging can keep the food hot for about 1-2 hours.

This property is vital for food deliveries, as it preserves the desired temperature of hot or cold items.

So, the customers receive their meals in the ideal serving condition.

Pro tip: Avoid using foil or other storage methods to keep food warm outside refrigeration for >2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.


By 2030, the global glass packaging market is expected to reach $86.54 billion, growing at a 4.2% CAGR from 2023’s $64.97 billion.

Buy why glass?

Heat Resistance

Glass containers withstand high temperatures without compromising the integrity or affecting contents.

Heat resistance is crucial for hot sauces, soups, or beverages requiring elevated temperatures.

Glass type 3 comprises 90% of all glass types and can withstand temperatures around 42°C without damage.

For example, glass jars used for canning preserves can safely withstand boiling water, preserving flavor and quality.

Pouring-tea-on-glass jar


Glass is 100% recyclable, allowing for infinite repurposing without quality loss.

The global glass recycling market is projected to grow at a 5.50% CAGR from 2022 to 2029.

This aspect contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing waste and conserving resources. 

For example, recycled glass bottles create new containers, minimizing raw materials and lowering the packaging industry’s carbon footprint.

According to Muncie Sanitary, newly purchased glass food jars contain a minimum of 35% recycled glass.


Glass packaging is neutral, preserving flavor and quality without compromise.

Unlike plastic, glass does not interact with contents, preserving taste and aroma.

This neutrality is vital for hot food and items like wines, spirits, or olive oils, where packaging interactions affect flavors.

Glass containers provide an inert and protective environment, keeping the products fresh and unaltered

Biodegradable Packaging (Sugarcane or Bagasse)

According to the Future Market Insights report, Biodegradable Packaging Market is expected to reach US$ 809.9 Bn in 2032, growing at a ~6.1% CAGR from 2022-2032.

It’s due to the properties like:

Environmental Sustainability

Sugarcane/bagasse packaging offers a renewable and sustainable alternative to conventional packaging materials. 

For example, according to a study, bagasse-based packaging reduced carbon emissions by up to 49% compared to traditional plastic packaging.

This aligns with food delivery services’ goals to minimize their environmental impact and promote sustainability.


Microwave Safe

Sugarcane or bagasse packaging allows for convenient heating/reheating of food. 

Bagasse can withstand Around -13°F to 428°F.

So, it is not only used to microwave food without deforming, melting, or releasing harmful substances.

But it was also used for food storage in the refrigerator. 

As a result, food can be safely and efficiently heated or stored, making them a reliable choice for food delivery or other settings.

Types of Food Packaging to Avoid

There are three typed of food packaging to aviod in delievery

Foam Container

Foam container has two disadvantage which make it a bad option for delievery packaging


Foam containers are non-biodegradable and do not naturally break down over time. 

They persist in landfills for hundreds of years, contributing to the accumulation of waste. 

For example, ~1/3 of the world’s landfill space is occupied by Styrofoam.

It is estimated that Styrofoam takes over 500 years to decompose. 

The extended decomposition period increases the landfill burden and causes lasting environmental impacts


Health Risks

Foam containers can pose health risks, especially for hot or oily foods. 

The materials used to make foam containers, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS), can leach harmful chemicals into food. 

For example, Styrofoam contains carcinogenic neurotoxins like styrene and benzene that can seep into food and the environment. 

So, avoid microwaving food or using Styrofoam containers for hot meals to prioritize safety


Single-Use Plastic Bag

Here is two reason why we can’t choose plastic bag

Chemical Leaching

Single-use plastic bags from low-quality plastics may contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA)

These chemicals can leach into food, especially when the bags are exposed to heat or certain food types. 

These chemicals have been linked to health concerns, including hormonal disruptions and reproductive effects with prolonged exposure.

Microplastic Consumption

Plastic bags can break down into smaller fragments, known as microplastics, over time. 

These microplastics can contaminate food and beverages, potentially leading to their ingestion by humans. 

Concerns exist regarding potential adverse effects on human health.

For example, inflammation, tissue damage, cancer, and toxic substance accumulation.

However, their long-term health impacts are still under study.

In addition, a mere 9% of single-use plastic is recycled, leaving 91% in landfills, causing environmental harm.

Black Plastic Containers

Black plastic hampers recyclability as it goes unnoticed by sorting machines.

It holds little market value, only about 0.06% of the global plastic market.

Consequently, about 15% of black plastic ends up un-recycled.

Additionally, these containers should be avoided for food delivery due to several associated health concerns. 

It’s because black plastic often contains additives such as carbon black.

These additives can migrate into food, especially when exposed to heat or acidic conditions, leading to potential contamination.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Food Delivery Containers

When choosing food delivery containers, prioritize factors that enhance the business’s and customers’ experience.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Select Shape and Size

Opt for containers that are appropriate for the type of food being delivered.

Various shapes and sizes accommodate different dishes, ensuring secure and intact food during transportation.

For example, round or square containers with secure lids are suitable for soups or sauces.

However, compartmentalized containers work well for meals with multiple components.

Some examples of optimal boxes sizes examples are;

  • Paper soup cups and bowls with  – 16oz capacity
  • Catering and to-go bowls with  – 32oz capacity
  • Deli containers with  – 64 ozcapacity

Enhance Durability

Choose durable and leak-proof containers to prevent any spills or messes during delivery.

Sturdy materials, like high-quality plastic or eco-friendly alternatives, preserve food integrity.

For example;

  • Sturdy cardboard boxes with grease-resistant lining are ideal for delivering pizzas.
  • Opting for leak-proof and microwave-safe containers for food items with sauces or gravies.

Custom Brand Logo to Make Brand Stand Out

Customize containers with your logo or design to boost brand presence and recognition.

This can help your business stand out and leave a lasting impression on customers.

For instance, print your restaurant’s logo on takeout container lids or use branded paper bags prominently displaying your business name and logo.


Prioritize containers that are easy for customers to handle and open.

Customers appreciate user-friendly features like snap-on lids, tear-away sections, and microwave-safe containers.

This enhances the overall customer experience and convenience.

For example, containers with easy-to-open lids, convenient handles, or tear-away sections for sharing and portion control

Tips for Food Delivery Safety

Here are some tips for food delivery safety and how to package food properly:

1.     Use Secure Packaging

Choose sturdy and leak-proof containers to prevent any spills or leaks during transportation.

Consider using sealed containers or bags to maintain food freshness.

2.     Separate Packaging for Different Food Items

Use different packaging or compartments to prevent cross-contamination and preserve dish integrity.

3.     Properly Seal the Packaging

Ensure all containers are tightly sealed to prevent contamination and maintain food hygiene.

Use appropriate sealing techniques like adhesive tape, zip-lock bags, or tamper-evident seals.

4.     Label the Packaging

Clearly label each package with the dish’s name, any special instructions, and the date and time of preparation.

This helps customers easily identify their orders and ensures they consume the food while it’s still fresh.

5.     Use Insulation Materials

When delivering hot food, use insulated containers like stainless steel to retain heat and prevent food from cooling down.

For cold or frozen items, include ice or gel packs to maintain the appropriate temperature.

6.     Pack Sauces and Condiments Separately

Pack sauces, dressings, and condiments in separate containers to prevent spills and leaks.

This ensures they don’t mix with other food items or damage the packaging.

7.     Provide Appropriate Utensils

Include disposable utensils, napkins, and any necessary serving tools in the delivery package.

Make sure to wrap or package them to maintain hygiene individually.

8.     Secure the Packaging for Transportation

Properly secure the packaged food to avoid movement and shifting during transit.

This helps prevent any accidental spills or damage to the contents.

9.     Maintain Food Safety Standards

Adhere to proper food safety guidelines during preparation and packaging.

Cook food to proper temperatures and follow safe handling practices to reduce foodborne illness risk.

10. Communicate Delivery Instructions

Give clear instructions to delivery personnel for the safe handling of packaged food.

Emphasize the importance of maintaining temperature control and avoiding rough handling.

Following these packaging guidelines ensures safe, fresh, and enjoyable delivered food.


Understanding food delivery packaging is crucial for your business’s success in 2023.

So, how can you ensure your food delivery packaging meets customer needs and safety standards?

Choose materials wisely, prioritize safety and customer satisfaction, and implement effective packaging solutions. 

By doing so, you can elevate your food delivery service and meet the evolving needs of your customers in the competitive market

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