As part of our Sustainability in Practice series, we look at how brands can incorporate foils and coatings into their packaging while ensuring that it can still be recycled safely and efficiently.


Foils can really elevate the visual appeal of a luxury box, and foil is generally regarded as a plastic-free material when applied to packaging if using the correct processes.

However, we have kept a keen eye on the recyclability of foils on packaging, and guidance from sustainability organisations recommends that foil be kept to a minimum quantity as a rule in order to avoid material contamination and damage to machinery during the recycling process. By advising our clients to keep below the recommended total of foil by weight at Hunter Luxury, we can increase the amount of potentially recyclable material.

One additional hidden process of foiling requires the use of a carrier film, usually made from PET, which must be disposed of once the foil has been applied. The carrier film can be a missed by-product, however, some suppliers offer collection services to ensure the material is processed efficiently.

Hankey Bannister foil detail
Glenallachie packaging from Hunter Luxury

Laminate finishes

The glossy finishes that we perceive as luxurious and matte laminate finishes that offer protection are all achieved with a layer of plastic that is difficult to separate from the base material and can be missed and end up being disposed of incorrectly.

So how can brands achieve glossy and protective finishes while still meeting their sustainability objectives?

Firstly, are they necessary? Un-coated stock has been a popular finish for a long time and with consumers becoming more aware of plastics, removing them could make a strong sustainable statement to consumers. and with increasing e-commerce over retail sales, the need for protection in-store is also diminished.

If removing laminate is not possible, biodegradable laminates are available in gloss and matte finish that look just as good as plastic equivalents but can decompose in under two years. Ideally, any plastic material should be designed to be removed, and we can now use water-soluble adhesives to help plastic films separate from the card base during the recycling process.

Further reading

Select the topics below to find out a little more about some typical features of luxury packaging, and how these can be switched for practical and sustainable alternatives.

Innovative materials

Sustainable natural packaging from Hunter Luxury

Alternative fitments

Sustainable Elemis at Hunter Luxury

Sustainability in practice

sustainable packaging from Hunter Luxury

Talk to us about your packaging projects

Our team of packaging experts has a huge range of experience in the industry, working with some of the largest global brands. Contact one of the team today to discuss your project.

Pippa Hunter Luxury

Pippa Bell

Head of Beauty
Paul Hunter Luxury

Paul Hamilton

Head of Wines and Spirits