Consumers today are constantly on the move, and carry-out, delivery and third party delivery services have become the norm for many restaurants and other foodservice establishments. As a result, disposable take-out packaging has become an essential component of operation.
When it comes to product disposal, understanding what foodservice packaging products are recyclable can play a big role in satisfying your customers and lowering your environmental footprint. It is important to understand the disposal options of the materials you are purchasing so your business can meet your sustainability goals and exceed customer demands. For many, recycling begins with looking for a product’s recycling symbol and ends with putting the product in the recycling bin. But, just because a plastic or paper product can be recycled doesn’t mean it is widely accepted by your commercial hauler.
Popular in most cafeterias, breakrooms, office kitchens, and other eateries, bins or dispensers are filled with disposable cutlery for guests to take and use with their meal or snack. Often not considered as a large part of your foodservice operation, disposable cutlery can be costing your business more than you think. When disposable cutlery is placed in a bin, it can encourage visitors to take more than they need, and even allow guests to touch multiple pieces, increasing the likelihood of cross-contamination.
Single-use plastic bags have been the target of state bans and legislation as their impact becomes more and more realized. The amount of plastic bags in the environment has become a huge problem because Americans alone use approximately 100 billion plastic bags a year, but only an estimated 1% get returned for recycling each year. Plastic takes years to decompose and even when they break down, they do not fully degrade. Plastic breaks down into microplastics or tiny pieces of plastics. Microplastics contaminate the environment and the food sources of humans and animals. More and more businesses in the affected states that provide patrons with single-use, lightweight plastic bags to take merchandise home, such as grocery stores, department stores, liquor stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and other retail stores will need to find alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
In recent years, the demand for more sustainable packaging has been growing steadily. As a result, many companies have adopted the use of molded fiber and bagasse food packaging. Molded fiber and bagasse are considered some of the most environmentally friendly food packaging options because they “close the loop”. Molded fiber is constructed from post-consumer content, and bagasse is made from renewable resources like sugarcane or wheatgrass. When they are discarded, the majority of these products can be commercially composted, breaking down and leaving a smaller footprint on the earth. Molded fiber and bagasse became a signal to consumers that a food establishment cares about the environment. Many health-conscious establishments like healthcare facilities, fast-casual dining, and farm-to-table restaurants use this as their food packaging of choice. But a recent article by the New Food Economy has alerted consumers and foodservice operators of the use of PFAS in molded fiber and bagasse food packaging.
Plastic foam or polystyrene is one of the most widely used types of plastics due to its low cost, moldable qualities, and its capability to generate its lightweight counterpart EPS (Styrofoam). Its various desirable performance attributes such as heat tolerance and retention and it's low-cost, has made it the preferred takeout container for many restaurants and businesses. Until recently, that is. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of foam on the environment and human health, and are demanding more sustainable options. As a result, state and local bans and regulations have been enacted to reduce the use of polystyrene products. Regulations, legislative pressures, customer demands and the trend towards sustainability are requiring businesses that use Styrofoam foodservice products to source more sustainable options.
Paper straws are becoming more and more popular as the trend toward sustainability grows, and plastic straws become the target of increasing government regulations. If your business is considering a switch from plastic straws to a more environmentally friendly option, paper straws could be the right solution for you.
Throughout the United States, state regulation on plastic bags is increasing. Some states are focusing on implementing effective recycling programs, while others are imposing bans or fees to discourage the use of plastic bags altogether. Recent bans and regulations may have you wondering if your business is going to be affected.
Choosing the right type of cutlery is important whether you are looking to make a positive impression on your guests or are trying to make a difference in the environment. Disposable cutlery is available in several different material types. Selecting the cutlery to best fit your business will depend on the food you are serving, environmental goals, and your budget.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We’ve all heard it and have become accustomed to seeing the infamous recycling symbol on our products. But, what does it mean when there is a number inside the three arrows? Not all plastics can be recycled in the same way or be recycled at all. Plastics have their own identification codes or numbers to tell us what type of plastic they are and where to recycle them.