Wagamama Launches Sustainable Packaging and Bowl Bank To Tackle Plastic Pollution

The modern Asian restaurant brand claims new delivery packaging will remove 330 tonnes of virgin plastic from supply chain and drastically lower carbon footprint

Wagamama will be using sustainable packaging for its delivery service alongside a new ‘Bowl Bank’ takeback scheme – moves it claims will remove 330 tonnes of virgin plastic from its supply chain and reduce its carbon footprint by two thirds. 

The popular restaurant brand, which focuses on modern Asian cuisine and was a vegan trailblazer, is replacing more than eight million delivery bowls with recyclable ones made of cPET, created from 70 per cent recycled content. The firm are working with suppliers to change the lid, which is also recyclable, to a cPET one within the next 18 months to create a fully circular solution. 

‘Small choices make for big change and sustainable progress doesn’t happen overnight. This is an exciting and overdue step for us but only the beginning’

And to ensure that the new materials are recycled, Wagamama has also launched a new ‘Bowl Bank’ scheme asking customers to return the packaging to their nearest restaurant. 

‘Reducing our use of virgin plastics is a complicated mission – but one we have been dedicated to for four years,’ says Wagamama CEO Thomas Heier. ‘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. Proving small choices make for big change and sustainable progress doesn’t happen overnight. This is an exciting and overdue step for us but only the beginning.’

The new packaging has been rolled out this week and will be in all restaurants and delivery kitchens across Britain by October in a bid to help tackle the world’s increasing plastic pollution problem.

Currently it’s estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used in the UK every year, nearly half of which is packaging

No detail has been overlooked, even down to making the containers a lighter creamy sand colour to ensure the bowls and lids will be more easily detected by NIR (Near Infra Red) scanners in recycling plants.

Plant-based Menu

Along with the new packaging, Wagamama will continue to promote plant-based eating as one of the most powerful choices consumers can make in the fight against climate change. As part of their ‘2021 Positive Action Plan’, the chain pledged to make half their menu plant-based by the end of the year – a commitment they met three months early on the launch of their new menu last October. 

wagamama has bowl back and sustainable packaging
Vegan dishes and recycled package are a popular choice

Brands across the globe are facing calls to reduce the amount of plastic they use as Europe consumes 44 million tonnes of virgin fossil-fuelled plastics each year. The UK and EU has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

Currently it’s estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used in the UK every year, nearly half of which is packaging. In 2021 the not-for-profit resources organisation WRAP, stated 1.2Mt (megatonnes) of the country’s plastic packaging was recycled – a fourfold increase from levels achieved in the early 2000s.  

Supermarkets and food retailers also have many initiatives aimed at reducing plastic packaging, having plastic-free aisles and allowing customers to use their own packaging containers.

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