Greener packaging from Wagamama

Material change: Wagamama starts using greener packaging and launches ‘Bowl Bank’

Restaurant chain Wagamama has today (15 August) started using greener packaging for its takeaway orders.

The new packaging is made from cPET, and the business estimates it will reduce the carbon footprint of its most popular dish – the katsu curry – by 62%, and take out up to 330 tonnes of virgin plastics from its operations in total.

Wagamama said it has worked alongside leading plastic experts, UK waste collectors, suppliers, and product designers to introduce the new packaging. The company said the move will see eight million delivery packaging items replaced with new material, with the transition set to be completed by October 2022.

The cPET bowls are made from 70% recycled content, with the remaining 30% of the packaging products made from plastics Wagamama deems are needed to maintain the structural integrity of the container. The restaurant chain has said it has minimised the new bowls, promising they fit portion size and no excess material is used.

The containers are a lighter creamy sand colour, which Wagamama said ensures the bowls and lids will be more easily detected by ‘Near Infra Red’ scanners used at the UK’s recycling plants.

Wagamama said it is using a PP lid and is committed to working with project partners to get to a fully cPET solution within 18 months. It acknowledged this greener packaging update represents progress rather than perfection in terms of sustainability strategy.

The company has also introduced what is calling a ‘Bowl Bank’, enabling its customers to bring back used packaging to its restaurants for recycling. According to Wagamama, Bowl Bank will be available in all of its stores by October.

Wagamama CEO Thomas Heier said: “Reducing our use of virgin plastics is a complicated mission – but one we have been dedicated to for four years. This has been driven by the belief that we needed do better for our guests, teams and the planet.

“Months of trial and error, conversations with leading experts, and research into UK waste streams has resulted in a moment where we can finally say we’re proud of our packaging.”

He added that the move was “overdue” and promised it was “only the beginning”, hinting at further improvements in the months ahead.

Simon Ellin, president of the UK Recycling Association and an adviser to Wagamama on the move to cPET, commented: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see businesses like Wagamama take accountability for their waste and go to great lengths to research and understand the complex nature of the UK recycling landscape.

“There’s so much misinformation and false claims about where rubbish goes, you really need to take the time to fully understand the problem. Assessing their business needs, I’m confident cPET is the most sustainable option available to them at this time, and I’m pleased to see they have invested in this option.”

He continued: “They will be leading consumer behaviour change with their ‘Bowl Bank’ initiative, and it would be brilliant to see more return initiatives like this from their peers.”

Jo Barnard, creative director of design & innovation agency Morrama, which helped bring the greener packaging to life, said: “We continuously balanced bettering guest and team experience with sustainability. We have reached a truly unique solution which reduces a massive amount of virgin plastic while still achieving the much loved ‘bowl to soul’ aesthetic Wagamama is famous for.”

Read more about retail and greener packaging strategy on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Wagamama]

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