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Fast food packaging has been getting a face lift in recent years – a redesign intended to be sustainable. Not all fast food companies are embracing the trend, but as consumers become aware of the costs of unsustainable materials, more companies are willing to roll out improved packages.

According to industry data, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of paper, plastic and other packaging materials were saved from ending up in landfills between 2005 and 2011 in the U.S. alone, reports ScienceDaily.

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This is wonderful to hear, and it’s great to see designers coming up with even more innovative ways to reduce the use of waste.

Most recently, Seulbi Kim, a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design, created a carrier that combines both a fast food meal bag and a drink holder, effectively reducing consumer waste by 50 percent, reports PSFK.

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Kim’s all-in-one design features individual sleeves for burgers and fries and a slot for your straw. Handles then fold together to lock everything nicely in place and allows you to easily eat on-the-go.

The fast food industry overall seems to be embracing these types of packaging.

“The industry has made great strides in reducing the amount of packaging,” said Sara Risch at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) via ScienceDaily. Risch cited thinner plastic bottles and compostable potato chip bags as examples in her talk.

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It’s truly amazing what sustainably-minded creatives can think up, and dedication to eco-friendly packaging by companies should be acknowledged.

But you might want to hold off on celebrating for now. While fast food packaging is improving, the food itself isn’t. Pink slime is still cropping up as are these nasty chicken nuggets. And on the whole, fast food is still terribly unhealthy with many meals clocking in at 700 calories or above. Plus, the fast food industry is notorious for using meat from environmentally destructive factory farms and other ingredients from GMO-made crops.

Fast food companies can get a “good effort” for sustainable packaging, but until they change what they serve too, they’re not getting that highly coveted A-grade.

Image source: Marshall Astor / Flickr