Reusable Foodservice Solutions
The Foodservice industry is growing rapidly all over the world, employing millions of people in small family-owned restaurants, large chains, cafes, and kiosks. It provides a valuable service by feeding meals, snacks and beverages to billions of people, but also generates a lot of waste in the process. Much of this waste can be avoided by creating reusable solutions instead of disposable products that end up in landfills or litter the environment.
Waste reduction in foodservice can help cut costs, and when properly communicated to customers, can even become a competitive advantage and help grow business. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to support businesses that make a visible effort to be sustainable.
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Upcoming regulations on single use plastics are likely to impact the Foodservice sector the most. While a lot of attention has been focused on “biodegradable” and “compostable” solutions, a better option is to reuse food and beverage packaging materials. Listed below are a small sample of reusable packages, business models and materials that can eliminate millions of tons of foodservice plastic waste.
- Pandobac is a French startup that provides reusable crates for the food chain that replace cardboard and polystyrene, reducing waste upstream in the value chain
- While the industry continues its search for ecofriendly and economical single use disposable replacements for plastic straws, a new trend of reusable straws is sweeping the world. Made from metal, bamboo or nsheke grass in Tanzania, these straws don’t come cheap, and need to be cleaned before reuse. Yet, they seem to be catching on with conscious consumers.
- The global innovation challenge for a sustainable, disposable, takeaway beverage cup led by Starbucks and McDonalds has gained much media attention. However, a quiet revolution in reusable takeaway cups is happening in Germany, Hong Kong and London. These solutions combine the convenience of a takeaway cup with the economic incentive of a deposit scheme that encourages consumers to return them to participating outlets, who then sanitize and reuse the containers.
- Food takeaway containers have traditionally been made from disposable plastics, often polystyrene that are very difficult to recycle and often wind up as hard to recover litter. A new approach to reusable takeaway containers is taking root in cities like Portland, Houston, and Durham in the USA. Consumers use a mobile app and a subscription service to participate in a returnable and reusable takeaway container service.
- Another trend in food takeaway is “Bring your own” container, which is taking shape in Belgium and Australia. This innovative business model rewards consumers with discounts for bringing their own stainless steel containers, an age-old solution in many countries, also called “tiffins”.
Have a look at the interesting discussion that is unfolding after an Ubuntoo member asked about the photo-degradability of mineral paper.
We loved watching this excellent video by UC Irvine that describes all the efforts to reduce foodservice packaging waste.
This website by Paul Kuck, a restauranteur from Oregon provides great tips in this blog post about Restaurant Waste Reduction
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“If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money” – Professor Guy McPherson, University of Arizona