Restaurant Waste – How to Cut Down on Plastics

Restaurant Waste - How to Cut Down on Plastics

Single-use plastic is destroying the world’s oceans.

According to National Geographic, there are more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in our oceans, and the problem is getting worse every single day.

Where does all this plastic come from? It comes from us. People throw it away. Others throw it on the ground or in rivers, and it finds it’s way into the ocean.

Experts agree that without immediate intervention soon, the amount of plastic littering the world’s oceans is expected to triple within the decade.

Not only does all the plastic in the ocean spell disaster for the marine life, but it does for us, too.

So, what you can your restaurant do to help?

In this article, we look at restaurant waste and how to cut down on plastics.

#1: You Can Recycle

This is one of the easiest ways you can help reduce the amount of plastic littering the world’s waterways.

Simply begin a recycling program in both the front and back of your house. Contract with your local trash company and add on recycling. They’ll send you multiple bins if you ask.

Then, it’s important to teach your staff what goes in what bin. You want to make sure you throw the right recycling in the right place. In addition, your staff will want to make sure large plastic containers are thoroughly rinsed out before going in the recycling.

Recycling really reduces our plastic waste by keeping it out of the landfills.

#2: Don’t Hand Out Plastic Silverware

Most restaurants throw plastic silverware in with their delivery orders. You can eliminate plastic waste immediately by not providing this with your orders. (tweet this)

Most of your delivery customers are having their food delivered to their homes where they already have silverware.

Since most of the single-use cutlery gets thrown away with your delivery orders, you can stop this waste by just not handing them out.

If it’s takeout, you can always ask, but ditch the plastic silverware with delivery orders.

Some restaurants may even use plastic utensils in their restaurant. If this is you, consider switching to compostable ones and mark your trash receptacles so people put them in the right place.

#3: Don’t Offer Straws

This has become a big issue in the last year. In fact, many food chains have stopped providing them altogether, and some cities have banned plastic straws.

Unless you’re providing take-out drinks, you don’t need to offer straws to your customers. They probably don’t use them at home, so they most likely won’t miss them in your restaurant.

If this is too much, only offer straws when customers request them.  This can help any of your diners with disabilities who might need a straw.

#4: Buy in Bulk

Not only do you save money when you buy in bulk, but you also help reduce your plastics waste.

By purchasing your items in bulk, you help reduce the plastic you need to recycle. For example,  buy one extra large jar of mayonnaise instead of a dozen small jars.

When you buy in bulk, you have much less packaging to throw away or hope you can recycle.

restaurant waste

Restaurants can do their part to help keep the oceans free of plastic

#5: Ditch the Plastic Wrap

If you’re like most restaurants, you probably overuse plastic wrap. Your back of house staff often covers things with plastic wrap. Or, you might use it to cover food you’re taking offsite for catering.

Plastic wrap is often used to seal containers that don’t have lids. You can reduce your plastic usage by investing in reusable storage solutions.

You’ll find many glass or good quality containers that are available with watertight seals. This way you won’t use as much plastic wrap, which isn’t recyclable at all.

#6: Use Paper

For your takeout and delivery orders, stop using plastic bags. These are one of the most damaging things you can do to the environment.

Consider using paper bags that are recyclable or come from recyclable materials.

You can even take it one step further by printing your own reusable bags. This is a win for your customers and a win for you because it furthers your brand name. Your customers will love their new grocery bag.

#7: Use Plastic Alternatives

When it comes to your carry out and delivery containers, look for eco-friendly alternatives to plastics.

This may mean finding recyclable or even compostable containers.

You will find that many of your customers are willing to pay a little bit more if they know they’re helping protect the environment by not using plastics.

#8: Use Matches

Many restaurants use plastic lighters to light the candles on their tables. Then, when they are empty, they throw them away.

These are also harmful to the environment.

You can remedy this by using matches instead of disposable plastic lighters. If you really want to use a lighter, choose refillable metal ones to stop the plastic waste.

#9: Don’t Use Plastic Beverage Containers

Another way to do your part is by not serving individual beverages like soda and water in plastic bottles.

opt for recyclable glass containers or cans.

You can also add a soda fountain to your restaurant so guests can use regular glassware for their drinks, and you can wash it.

Consider filtered water as well because plastic water bottles are not part of an eco-friendly plan.

Final Thoughts

Why the big deal about plastic waste?

Much of the plastic we consume on a daily basis is used only once, yet it remains on the earth forever. This causes numerous problems on land and in the oceans.

It flows through rivers and storms drains. It flies away from landfills.  This debris is causing enormous problems in our oceans, but we can make changes that will help.

It’s up to all of us to do our part. Let’s stop relying on single-use plastics in our restaurants, and in our daily lives. (tweet this)

By playing reducing restaurant waste, you’re doing your part to keep our land and our oceans clean. You’ll also find an added benefit – your customers will appreciate the steps you are taking to clean up the environment by reducing the use of plastics.

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Images: tanvi sharma and Donald Teel on Unsplash

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