Of the 260 million tons of plastic produced annually, 10% end up in the world’s oceans and rivers. Considering that plastics release toxic chemicals into soil and water as they breakdown, this is a problem for both humans, wildlife, and the environment. Taking care of the environment is a collective responsibility, and your restaurant can help. From cups to plates to straws to cutlery, restaurants use a lot of plastic. Here are five simple ways to reduce your use of single-use plastics.
1. Change Up Your Containers
Takeout containers are a large source of plastic waste. You can either purchase biodegradable containers or allow customers to bring containers at home (the latter of which requires you to check with your local health code first). Large chains, like Starbucks, have already implemented this though. They give customers a small discount for bringing a cup from home.
2. Switch up the Straw Situation
Straws may be little, but their environmental impact certainly isn’t. Straws are consistently among the top ten most common items found on beach cleanups. By switching to paper straws, only giving straws once requested, or even getting rid of straws entirely, you can make a difference.
3. Paper over Plastic
In one week, the world goes through ten million plastic bags. Often, restaurants will give out plastic bags even when they are not necessary. We suggest first determining the necessity of the bag — does a singular container of food require a bag? — and then using a paper bag if you deem a bag necessary.
4. Cut Back on Cutlery
It’s safe to assume that your takeout and delivery customers have a draw of spoons, forks, and knives at home. In many cases, providing cutlery is unnecessary. However, some customers may have just moved into a new house or planning to eat on the go, so it may be for them. To accommodate this, you can ask whether or not they require cutlery — this way you aren’t wasting supplies on customers who would just throw them away.
5. Buy Ingredients in Bulk
If you aren’t already doing this, get started! Buying food in bulk can both reduce food costs (yay!) and reduce plastic packaging. Along with this, consider reevaluating your inventory. If you are using four different strains of white rice in four different dishes, consider consolidating to one type. This is an easy way to maximize your inventory and lower your food and plastic waste.
Actively working towards a more sustainable business is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for your business. Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious in their purchasing decisions. People are willing to pay more for an eco-friendly experience. Publicize your sustainable actions and efforts helps to attract more customers, drive revenue, and generally strengthen your brand’s reputation.