Plastic Alternatives for Restaurants: How to Be Eco-Friendly

Nick Mirev
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    The food and beverage industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Millions of single-use plastic products are used every day in restaurants across the world. That’s why governments and regulators have started introducing sanctions and regulations to the usage of straws, containers, packaging, and other plastic wholesale goods. Business owners who aim to lower their environmental impact have started introducing plastic alternatives for restaurants. With the latest technological improvements and the rise in market demand, the prices of these goods have been dropping. That’s why this is among the easiest changes restaurant managers can integrate on their way to build a sustainable restaurant. Below we’ve shared more details on the topic of plastic alternatives for restaurants as well as the steps to take to reduce plastic usage.

    Most Common Plastic Goods Used in Restaurants

    Food service businesses use a variety of reusable and single-use plastic goods. Let’s see what the main types are.

    Delivery and Takeout-Related Plastic Goods

    Food service establishments order a variety of restaurant supplies to run their delivery and takeout part of the business.

    • Bags. Although a lot of restaurants have switched to purchasing biodegradable paper bags from suppliers of wholesale paper products, there are still those that use plastic bags.
    • Portion cups. Sauces and salad dressings usually come in plastic portion cups so that the customer can mix them with their meal.
    • Food delivery containers. Plastic food delivery containers come in all shapes and sizes in order to fit different dishes. Some venues have switched to biodegradable options, but others that aim for the lowest cost of goods sold still use plastic ones. That’s why plastic food containers are still used extensively for fast-food restaurant delivery.

    Plastic Goods Used for Dining-In

    Coffee shops, food trucks, and other fast food establishments are among the major purchasers of single-use products. Here are the main types.

    • Food containers. They are used to store food leftovers and meal preps. A lot of them are made of sturdy plastic that can be washed and reused. However, some containers are thrown away after a single use.
    • Cutlery. Both restaurants and catering businesses use a variety of plastic cutlery for outdoor events and takeout orders. Single-use plastic cutlery is popular at fast food establishments.
    • Drinkware. Wholesale businesses that sell restaurant supplies offer a variety of both paper and plastic single-use cups. Other examples of single-use drinkware accessories include lids and straws.
    • Plates. A variety of food service establishments serve desserts, appetizers, and other meals on plastic plates.
    Key takeaway: Even though single-use plastic goods might be cheaper, a lot of businesses are switching to plastic alternatives for restaurants. Introducing such goods can help a company reduce its ecological footprint and prepare for future regulations.
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    Plastic Alternatives for Restaurants

    Businesses that aim to lower their ecological footprint switch to various plastic alternatives for restaurants. That can also be used to boost the social media marketing for restaurants and attract environmentally-conscious customers. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main alternatives available on the market.

    Paper Products

    The usage of paper goods leads to deforestation across the world. However, they are less damaging to the environment compared to single-use plastics. Paper and cardboard can be used to make cups, plates, and other tableware.

    Compostable and Biodegradable Goods

    These items are usually made from materials that break down naturally in a few days or weeks. Such materials include sugarcane or cornstarch. They practically have no negative impact on nature. These goods have a wide range of uses such as packaging and tableware.

    Wooden Products

    The higher prices of bamboo or wooden goods make them not as lucrative. However, they are eco-friendly and they are among the hot restaurant industry trends. Furthermore, they can be a great option for businesses that are close to nature and want to use them as part of the whole dining experience.

    Other Reusable Items

    Glass, metal, and textiles can play an important role in a restaurant’s switch to sustainability. There are a variety of options on the market that can be used for reusable cutlery or tableware. Sadly, some of those options can come at a much higher cost or not be suitable for that type of restaurant.

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    Ideas to Reduce Plastic Usage in Restaurants

    Allow us to share a few easy ideas on how you can further reduce a business’s plastic footprint.

    1. Organize “bring your own plate” events. By encouraging customers to come with their own cups or plates, you will avoid using single-used goods.
    2. Organize a composting system. Both food waste and compostable supplies can be used to help grow fruits and vegetables.
    3. Educate the staff and customers. Educate your bar staff and waiters about the importance of introducing green practices. Make sure you give incentives to customers to choose more eco-friendly options.
    4. Partner with sustainable suppliers. In order to cut transportation costs, businesses usually work with local distributors or manufacturers. Furthermore, many suppliers are striving to reduce their impact on the environment as well. When searching for suppliers, consider including their green policies as one of your main decision-making factors.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Plastic Alternatives for Restaurants

    The topic of introducing eco-friendly practices in businesses is becoming increasingly important. That’s why you might have various questions about green practices. Below we’ve answered some of the common questions.

    How Expensive Are Plastic Alternatives for Restaurants?

    Usually, plastic alternatives for restaurants are more expensive compared to plastic goods. However, with the development of technology, the price difference between the two types decreases. If you find suppliers who offer bulk options of plastic alternatives for restaurants, you can benefit from their wholesale prices. That way, the difference between plastic and its alternatives can be as little as 10%.

    A lot of governments around the world plan to add additional taxes on polluting goods such as single-use plastic products. Ergo, it might actually become cheaper to use biodegradable or compostable products instead of regular plastic.

    What Other Green Practices in Restaurants Can Be Introduced?

    There are a number of policies that food service companies can integrate into their business to reduce their ecological footprint. Allow us to share a few examples.

    1. Use eco-friendly packaging. Whether it’s for takeaway bags or containers, restaurants can easily switch to sustainable packaging.
    2. Purchase in bulk. Purchasing large quantities of supplies means that there’s less packaging and waste.
    3. Minimize food waste. Restaurants can invest in freeze-drying equipment. That way they can store some products and meals and increase their shelf life.
    4. Invest in energy-efficient equipment and recycle restaurant appliances. A food service business can invest in energy-efficient appliances and reduce its bills significantly.
    5. Implement restaurant composting and recycling. Almost all goods used in restaurants can be recycled. That’s why venues should have good recycling and composting processes in place.

    How Can a Restaurant Benefit from Becoming More Sustainable?

    More and more people are actively striving to reduce their plastic and ecological footprint. Therefore, there are various ways to benefit if you use plastic alternatives for restaurants. Green practices in restaurants can be used to boost a restaurant’s marketing efforts. By branding yourself as an environmentally friendly food service establishment, you’re likely to attract more customers. Eco-friendly restaurants will be better prepared for future regulations in the industry. Overall, sustainable restaurants not only help the environment but they can also help their business and maximize profits.

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