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Can Microwaveable Packaging Also Be Sustainable?


Dish with packaged cooked food.

Increasing consumer desire for fast, convenient food is projected to drive up sales of CPG microwaveable products. But consumers are also increasingly concerned with the environment and the impact of disposable packaging on landfills. The real question CPG food packaging experts must consider going forward is, can they accommodate both of these trends by creating sustainable microwaveable packaging?

Not An Oxymoron: Sustainable Microwave Packaging

CPG food packaging is not immune to consumer trends. Two areas of consumer interest will collide and potentially meld this year in the area of microwaveable CPG products. 

We know consumers are increasingly worried about the impact of packaging on the environment. However, the demand for convenient and quick meal choices is also on the upswing. These trends are driving more CPG food packaging experts to develop microwavable products that also have sustainable green packaging options.

Eco-friendly CPG food packaging isn’t new; it’s just risen to the forefront of an industry flexed by consumer muscle. Microwave packaging has been inherently tied to consumer convenience for decades. Originally, the market sought products that could be heated both in a microwave or oven. Packaging Digest suggests that this market peaked around 2005, with sales of around $14 million in the U.S. Sales have since dropped but stabilized; today, almost everyone owns a microwave oven. 

Some of the innovations in CPG food packaging for microwavable products include:

Green Products Are Becoming Dominant

Today, there is a new wave of green products designed to reduce corporate carbon footprints. There are rigid polypropylene trays that result in more than a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions. Many of these CPG packaging designs eliminate the box to a kind of bikini sleeve, reducing carbon emissions even further.

Companies like Genpak, which have been around for more than 50-years, are redesigning their eco-friendly food containers and packaging to make them more sustainable. Take out containers are now transparent, microwave safe, and biodegradable as part of standard CPG food packaging. Genpak lists some of the benefits of these packaging designs as:

  • A clean, modern, transparent design
  • Hinged containers that allow venting
  • The versatility of a microwaveable container
  • Curbside recyclability

The Global Web Index says we are on the brink of a plastics revolution driven by consumer concerns about the volume of single-use plastics impacting our environment. CPG food packaging designers are responding by creating new types of sustainable packaging in every category, including in microwaveable and convenience foods. The question as to whether the package of microwaveable products can be eco-friendly has been answered. Expect an increase in the consumption and purchase of products featuring more sustainable designs in the future.

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news! 

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