Globally, some 78 million metric tons of plastic packaging is produced annually and only about 14% is recycled, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In the U.S., that plastic recycling rate dips below 10%. And by 2050, it’s estimated there will be more plastic in Earth’s oceans than fish.
Restaurants are increasingly under pressure to find alternatives to plastic for their takeout and to-go packaging. Even allegedly compostable products are sometimes lined with per- and polyfluoroalkyl “grease-proof” lining that can introduce toxic “forever chemicals” that can seep into waterways and soil.
Across the country, states, cities and local jurisdictions are banning certain types of plastics and looking at mandates that would force restaurant operators to rethink their packaging. Among the legislative proposals is a move to encourage restaurants to use packaging made from recycled materials, for example, to create more of a market for recycled plastic and paper and boost the nation’s recycling rates.
Some are turning to reusable containers. Dig, for example, a New York-based fast-casual chain has developed a pilot program for to-go diners to use containers that they bring back to the restaurant for cleaning and reuse.
Fundamentally, the solution to the nation’s plastic problem will likely be found with some combination of the Three Rs: Reduce, recycle and reuse.
Check out these sustainable to-go and delivery packaging options.
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