In early 2020, Wallpaper* gave PriestmanGoode a problem: the mass of excess waste produced by food packaging. Its solution was ‘Zero’, a holistic reimagining of the entire takeaway food delivery system – convenience with a conscience.  

The ‘Zero’ concept comprised a range of reusable, planet-friendly food containers and delivery rider bag, which the team are bringing to life in collaboration with sustainable material partners: Ananas Anam (Piñatex), Euphoam, (Lexcell, Made With Yulex), Crafting Plastics Studio (Nuatan), Paula Nerlich, (Cocoa_001), Ty Syml (Mycelium) and Margarita Talep, (Desintegra.Me). It also involved a rewards system – such as discounts on future orders – devised to encourage a circular economy mindset

3D-printed models of PriestmanGoode’s ‘Zero’ takeaway food packaging
Top: 3D-printed models of PriestmanGoode’s ‘Zero’ takeaway containers, designed using environmentally conscious materials. Above: alternative materials by a range of sustainable manufacturers that could be used in the production of the project 

‘Zero’ proved an instant hit, with small start-ups, restaurant chains, food producers and global brands identifying its potential as a game-changer. ‘The project seems to resonate with people across all markets. It’s shown that there are other ways that you can approach food delivery and presentation, which address sustainability, aesthetics, customer experience and business needs,’ says Jo Rowan, associate director of strategy at PriestmanGoode.

So where can ‘Zero’ go from here? PriestmanGoode has taken the last year to think outside the takeaway box. ‘I think there are endless possibilities and applications, from packaging to furniture, interiors, and even transport,’ says Maria Kafel-Bentkowska, head of colour, materials and finish. ‘We’re seeing this in beauty, for instance, where some brands are focusing on natural products in environmentally conscious packaging, which is either compostable or reusable. Even larger supermarkets are starting to trial package-free bulk buying as a means to reduce waste.’

Render design of Zero takeaway food packaging by PriestmanGoode

The pandemic has placed a new emphasis on food hygiene.The team are continuing to explore the potential of antimicrobial additives, reactive materials, and a communications strategy for safe delivery processes with minimal human contact. 

Covid-19 also brought with it some regressive views on disposability, but though plastic consumption may have increased, so too have the initiatives, legislation and research doubling down on waste. ‘We have seen a lot of new plastics entering the market as a result of the pandemic, in PPE and testing kits for instance. But what this seems to have done is to accelerate awareness of the issue of plastic waste across all industries,’ says Kafel-Bentkowska. ‘It’s encouraging to see that there is now momentum from all sides towards tackling this issue. For systemic change to happen, we need change in consumer behaviour, in supply chains and in legislation.’ §

Render design of Zero takeaway food packaging by PriestmanGoode