5 Easy Steps to Reduce Plastic & Benefit Your Business
Despite our best intentions, a portion of disposable food serviceware will end up on streets or in the environment. 80% of this debris is plastic. PSI has worked with restaurants and universities to identify strategies for reducing single-use
plastic and disposable serviceware to tackle this problem at its source and save business owners money along the way. Voluntary waste reduction strategies such as reusable food serviceware complement producer responsibility systems,
like EPR for packaging, that address plastic waste. When producers and businesses step up to achieve the best possible environmental outcomes, everyone benefits. We’ve
compiled the resources below to help business owners and customers work toward a circular economy that keeps communities healthy, safe, and thriving.
Waste, Take-Out and COVID-19
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus caused many restaurants to transition to delivery or take-out only models, often for the first time. Most to-go orders rely on single-use packaging, typically plastic. It's likely that plastic waste
increased accordingly. Where cafes and restaurants remained open, many instituted temporary policies barring customers from bringing their own cups or containers from home to protect employees. While worker safety should always be
the top priority, policies like these may also result in more waste.
Restaurants: You Can Still Reduce Your Plastic Footprint During the Pandemic!
- Skip disposable cutlery and straws – you’re delivering to customers at home, where they likely already have reusable cutlery to use! Save some money and prevent waste by simply not providing cutlery with take-out or delivery options,
or only provide it on request.
- Hold off on condiment packets – again, customers may already have commonly-provided condiments such as ketchup, mustard, or soy sauce at home in larger containers. Consider providing condiment sachets or to-go cups only on request
to save money and prevent packaging and food waste.
- For pick-up orders, allowing customers to bag their own orders in reusable bags saves staff time and reduces customer contact while preventing waste from disposable bags. For contactless deliveries, bags may not be needed if food can
simply be placed (in containers) at a customer’s door.
Download the Toolkit:
With these simple strategies, you will reduce waste and protect landscapes and wildlife – all while saving money and helping your business thrive. What’s inside:
- Plastic Footprint Assessment Tool
- Foodware Cost Calculator
- Step-by-Step Plastic Reduction Plan Guide
- Results from real restaurants
- Sample Disposable Products Business Policy
- Extra Resources for Tackling Plastic in Your Community
- NEW: Customer Education Templates & Ideas
- NEW: Guidance on Reusable Materials and COVID-19
Tools for Concerned Customers
If you've been ordering more take-out while staying at home and trying to support your favorite local restaurants, you've likely accumulated (or thrown away) a lot more plastic than usual. But for customers concerned about plastics, there are
still sustainable take-out options! Check out the following resources and be sure to share with your family and friends to spread the word. Even when there's not a global pandemic, there are plenty of ways to get involved in reducing your
community's plastic footprint. Try downloading our leave-behind cards to let your favorite local businesses know that you'll support their
efforts to reduce waste, and be sure to check out our Plastic Policies Library for sample ordinances that address single-use plastic waste."
Sustainable Take-out Tips
- Tackle Marine Debris at the Source with Plastics Reduction Policies in Your Community. Check out Sample Plastics Policies we already have on our website!!
- You can share facts, graphics, videos and other content from environmental groups like Plastic Pollution Coalition, 5 Gyres,
Lonely Whale, Clean Seas, Clean Water Action, One Green Planet,
Surfrider, and EPA’s Trash Free Waters program.
- Find certified compostable products through the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI).
- Find paper and wood products certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council.
- Contact Clean Water Action’s ReThink Disposable project, a technical assistance program that helps restaurants reduce disposable products. Their Reusable Food Serviceware Guide,
educational graphics, and other helpful resources are available online.
- Join Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program to become a certified “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” and gain national and local recognition.
- Take part in the Plastic Pollution Coalition's campaigns to spread the word about plastic pollution and learn about additional actions you can take to stop it.
- Join Lonely Whale’s #StopSucking campaign to challenge your customers to skip the straw.
- Check out 5 Gyres's Better Alternatives Now List 2.0 for more information about the top polluting products
and better alternatives.
- The Safety of Reuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- For more guidance on restaurant sustainability, visit the Green Restaurant Association
- Plastic Pollution Coalition: General Community Resources for COVID-19
- INDISPOSABLE: The Safety and Future of Reuse
- Guidance documents for grocery stores and quick-service restaurants and steps they can take to ensure packaging is PFAS-free.