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Does takeaway need to be wasteful?

Does takeaway need to be wasteful?

As consumers around the world wake up to the damage that plastics do to the environment, many are starting to be more discerning in their consuming habits and considering takeaway waste.

Does takeaway need to be wasteful?

For the restaurant and QSR industry, the sustainability movement is something that must be faced up to and tackled. It’s something that consumers are voting with their wallets on and the industry is responding to. Biodegradable coffee cups have seen a growth in popularity, as have reusable cups at coffee shops. Even recycling of paper cups has gone up. Starbucks told the APPG on the Prevention of Plastic Waste that over the last two years, the UK has gone from one in 400 paper cups being recycled, to one in 25, a massive improvement.

To retain the loyalty of environmentally-conscious consumers, food operators must look at their own practices, particularly when it comes to takeaway waste. In some areas of the country, it is actually local governments who are taking the lead. Single use plastic cups will now be taxed at Scottish Parliament, in a bid to reduce waste, while Lancashire County Council has introduced 20 recyclable or compostable products within its buildings and services since the start of the year.

This is also something that some restaurants are using as an opportunity to set their brand apart. London restaurant Spring, which is based at Somerset House in Aldwych, has stopped using cling film and plastic straws within the restaurant and has also asked its suppliers to deliver food in reusable packaging to cut takeaway waste. Elsewhere in the world, an Indian restaurant in Victoria, Australia, has introduced stainless steel food boxes, mostly used as tiffins in India, for delivering food to their customers.

A first step for restaurants planning to embrace this movement could be using compostable or biodegradable packaging rather than plastic and committing to stopping the use of single use plastics, such as cling film. There are a growing number packaging providers who specialise in home and commercially compostable products such as Biopac, Enviropack, or Vegware.

However, the best way of being environmentally-friendly is still up for debate and it is an evolving process. As this Guardian article discusses, some biodegradable bowls contain chemicals that don’t decompose, so there’s still a way to go when it comes to perfecting the ideal sustainable packaging.

Whatever steps companies take to become more sustainable, it is also a great opportunity to make their brand stand out. Even the biggest QSR brands are vying to establish their sustainability credentials – McDonald’s has pledged to source 100 percent of its fibre-based packaging from certified or recycled sources by 2020.

For further inspiration, Fast Casual magazine has listed out five ways that restaurants can embrace sustainable packaging, including tracing the sourcing of your packaging materials; verify sustainability with neutral, non-profit organisations; looking at ways to reuse packaging; and reducing food waste. We look forward to seeing how more operators in the industry tackle this new environment.

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