Ordering take-out is a nice treat every now and then. Whether you are craving sushi from your favourite restaurant, wanting to support local businesses, or simply don’t feel like cooking, ordering take-out can make your meal just a little more exciting. Additionally, ordering food to go is a great way to support your favourite restaurants while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite how much you enjoy the food you order; do you ever feel guilty about the plastic or Styrofoam containers your food comes in?
Environmental dangers of plastics and Styrofoam
Plastics, especially single-use plastics, have a significant impact on our environment. Many plastics cannot be reused or recycled, therefore ending up in landfills, waterways, and habitats. These plastics are unable to decompose and can only break down into microplastics through the process of weathering and sun exposure. These tiny pieces of plastic can be harmful to wildlife and humans, as they end up in their digestive systems. See the blog post “Communities Banning Single-Use Plastics” to learn more.
Styrofoam is another petroleum-based product that harms the environment. Styrofoam products are lightweight and are unable to break down in the environment over time. When exposed to sunlight, Styrofoam creates harmful air pollutants. Not only do Styrofoam containers pollute the environment, but they release toxic chemicals into the food they contain. This can be very harmful to your health.
Knowing the negative impacts of plastics and Styrofoam, it is only natural to second guess your take-out order. Luckily, many restaurants are taking environmental responsibility and switching to compostable take-out containers!
Compostable take-out containers
Compostable take-out containers can only be labelled as “compostable” if they are able to biodegrade, disintegrate, and have no eco-toxicity within 180 days in a commercial compost facility. Already, these compostable containers are a big step up from traditional plastic or Styrofoam ones. While some compostable materials will be entirely made out of paper (no plastic linings or films), and can be composted in your backyard, there are also compostable plastic take-out containers as well.
It is important to keep in mind that compostable plastic take-out containers are only able to reduce environmental harm if your municipality has a commercial composting facility that can process compostable plastics. Otherwise, they aren’t able to break down in landfills, and backyard composting doesn’t produce the correct amount of heat or microorganisms to break down the materials.
Restaurants that have compostable take-out containers
National and International restaurants are shifting towards compostable take-out containers as a result of public demand. Some restaurants that make use of some compostable containers include Freshii, Chipotle, and Sweetgreen.
Many restaurants that use compostable take-out containers are the ones that are local! Small family owned businesses are taking the initiative to be environmentally friendly. Take a look around your town or city in order to find restaurants that are making these changes!
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