Drive through any neighborhood on trash day, or any park in a busy city, and America’s trash problem is obvious:
44% of Ocean Plastics Are Linked to Takeout Food - EcoWatch
Straws are not the biggest offenders when it comes to ocean plastic, according to a new study. Widespread plastic contaminants such as food containers and wrappers, single-use bags and plastic bottles are the most widespread pollutants of the seas, making up almost half of human-made waste.
If we’re going to solve this problem effectively, we can’t rely on consumer behavior alone. It’s simply not changing fast enough. Instead, we have to turn to where this garbage starts: the foodservice establishments themselves selling hundreds of billions of dollars in takeout each year.
If you’re a restaurant owner, manager, or employee who cares enough about our beautiful planet to do what you can to switch, read on.
🏆 Quick & easy ideas to start with today
The first and most critical goal in modern society is to reduce the amount of plastic & styrofoam used. These are the worst possible materials to use, sitting around in landfills for generations, not decomposing.
1. Switch to plant-based containers
You can put out compostable bins next to your trash/recycling cans, and reinvest that material directly into local farms, just like I do at my property. Immediate win-win.
2. Don’t default: Ask what customers need
Restaurants should also train their employees to ask customers whether they’d like plastic cutlery, napkins, and a bag with their order—rather than simply putting them all in by default. Many customers will decline, which reduces the business’s costs on these items.
🌍 Longer-term ideas to work towards
The ultimate goal for our planet’s health is to stop single-use as much as possible. (People often forget the first 2 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in favor of the last & most ‘popular’ one!)
Everyone has Tupperware and silverware at home. How can we incentivize them to bring in their own containers? Companies like Danzeisen Dairy, Desert Refillery, and Last Drop do a fantastic job of reducing single-use with their bottle deposit programs. 👏
Restaurants can offer a similar deposit system to your customers: not mandatory, simply optional for those who care to participate.
The employee taking the to-go order asks: “Will you be using your own containers today?” and if the customer says yes, the order gets fulfilled as “for here” instead. The customer then transfers their food to their own containers before leaving the premises.
This approach is much more logistically complex, and will require deeper problem-solving, so I’m just spitballing for now. But I know there’s a viable solution that will reduce packaging costs for restaurants and drastically reduce single-use in the process. 🙌
Conclusion, for now
Please let me know if you found these ideas helpful, and if you’d like my support. I’ve worked extensively in restaurant operations as well as tech, and am available to help implement these solutions to take the load off you and your team.
The Facts: Fast-Food Packaging Waste Statistics | Takeaway Packaging
Fast-food packaging waste is a global problem, but how bad is the current situation? Whether you live in a city centre or further afield, you've undoubtedly come across your fair share of litter. Since last year, the plastic littering problem has increased . As lockdowns eased, people started to venture out.