|12. Identify one disposable item to be eliminated, switched to a reusable option, or provided only upon request.
On average, Americans generate 3.2 million tons of disposable food packing a year and less than 1% is recycled. Help reduce your business’s environmental footprint by switching from non-renewable petroleum products to reusable options. Many businesses who make the switch realize cost savings.
| Make a list of all the disposable items in your restaurant (e.g. straws, condiments, to-go containers, utensils, cups, plates, etc.). Identify which items could be easily offered only upon request or at a communal station instead of handed out with each order. If you have dishwashing capacity, also consider switching disposable items to reusable. Reusables are an initial upfront cost, but will save you money in the long end.
Inform employees of any changes and why to make the switch successful.
Reusable Food Serviceware Guide
EPA’s Guide to Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging
Shedd the Straw
|A policy, employee letter, or pictures with explanation of switch
|13. Eliminate the use of Styrofoam and plastic bags, minimize the amount of packaging, and only provide utensils, napkins, and condiments upon request for to-go orders.
Plastic bags cost retailers more than
$4 billion dollars and are used on
average for 12 minutes. They are hard
to recycle, become litter, and break
down into toxic smaller pieces.
Styrofoam is made from petroleum and the production causes air pollution and health hazards for workers. It is not biodegradable and takes up a lot of space in landfills and can leach toxic chemicals into food if heated in the microwave.
|Identify all the materials needed for to-go orders and switch Styrofoam packaging to compostable or recyclable options. Switch any plastic bags to paper bags.
Inform employees of the new policy with utensils, napkins, and condiments only provided upon request and inform customers of your commitment to waste reduction.
Information on Plastic Bag Bans
|A policy, employee newsletter, or pictures with explanations of sustainable to-go process
|14. Provide at least one dish on the
menu with a Fair trade product,
organic, or local ingredient.
Fair trade ensures that the product
was sourced ethically, which supports
workers in the supply chain and the
environment. Organic foods are grown
without the use of toxic synthetic
pesticides and fertilizers, irradiation,
sewage sludge, and genetic
engineering, which limit the need for
chemicals that pollute waterways,
exploit resources, and cause cancer in
farmers. Buying locally saves energy
from limiting transportation, waste
and natural resources from packaging,
and land from industrial development.
|Fair trade food must be Fair-Trade Certified,
organic food must be USDA Organic approved,
and local food must be within 100 miles or less
from farm to plate.
|Receipt or proof of
|15. Purchase 3 paper products with at least 30% post-consumer recycled material (e.g. printing paper, paper towels, bags, napkins, etc.).
Producing paper is economically and
environmentally costly. Buying
napkins, toilet paper, office paper, and
other paper products made of
recycled content can reduce the use of
|Meet with your procurement department and draft a new policy for purchasing paper products. Identify all the paper products you buy. Ask suppliers to help you find eco-friendly paper products.
EPA’s Paper and Paper Products Procurement
WWF’s 6 Steps to Responsible Paper Purchasing
|A copy of any recycled content purchasing policies, receipts and/or photographs of 3 recycled paper products
|16. Reuse or work with vendors to minimize and/or take back product packaging where possible.
Finding products with less and without
unnecessary packing will reduce the
amount of waste you have to pay to
dispose of. Some vendors are even
willing to take back product packaging.
|Ask your supplier if they have a takeback policy or alternate packaging. For example, some suppliers can bring milk in reusable glass containers and take them back for reuse. Also consider reusing the packaging in your own operations.
||A copy of the policy or a picture with a description of the waste reduction, reuse, or take-back program