Skip to main content

Recycling your takeaway food packaging and containers

APRIL 2020. South Australia’s hospitality sector may be more reliant on takeaway packaging at the moment. That means recycling at home should be top of mind so you can avoid sending waste to landfill.

Here are some tips to help you deal with takeaway packaging.


Do you really need that cutlery?

One perk of eating in the comfort of your own home is that you don’t have to rely on single-use cutlery, you can use your own. When ordering your next takeaway meals, remember to remind businesses that you ‘don't need that complimentary plastic or bamboo fork, you're all good thanks'.

The same goes for sauce sachets and condiment containers. The sauce in your pantry or mayonnaise in your fridge might work just as well in complementing your meal.


Get informed

If you don’t know already, ask businesses how their food is packaged. Do they use plastic, expanded polystyrene (EPS) or cardboard? Is the packaging compostable? Their answers might influence the menu items you order, based on how these meals are packaged, or simply help in clarifying how and where a business’ packaging can be disposed of after use.

For guidance on what to do with packaging to avoid sending it to landfill, check out the Which Bin website.

 Key takeaways from Which Bin:

  • The recycling bin (yellow lid) is a no-go zone for expanded polystyrene/foam clamshells, bowls and cups. Pop these items in the general waste bin.
  • No one likes mouldy plastic. Before recycling plastic containers (base and lid), make sure you give these a quick clean to remove food residue. Overly contaminated materials won’t be accepted by plastics recyclers.
  • Clean aluminium foil trays are good to go in the recycling bin. Foil sheets can go in this bin too, just make sure to scrunch them up into a fist-sized ball.
  • Compostable packaging, certified to the Australian Standards, can be placed in kerbside organics bins in most metropolitan councils. What is compostable packaging? The home compostable logo and seedling logo are a good giveaway. In cases where products aren’t labelled however, you can always clarify with café or restaurant staff, ‘is your packaging compostable?’. If you’re unsure whether ‘compostables’ are accepted in your organics bin, contact your council or visit their website.
  • Greasy paper and cardboard (i.e. cheesy pizza boxes) can, along with your food scraps, go straight into the green organics bin.
  • Start a collection of any soft plastic packaging. This can be dropped off in a REDcycle bin at your local Coles or Woolworths.


To find out what businesses can do, and are already doing, to minimise their plastic footprint, see the Plastic Free SA website or follow this initiative via Instagram or Facebook.


For information on the state government’s approach to addressing plastic pollution and diverting waste from landfill, visit the Green Industries SA website.