Styrofoam bans are sweeping across the nation, cities and towns are banning the use of styrofoam left and right. If you ask me, I think it’s great. Styrofoam aka polystyrene is a type of plastic manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels (which is where its effect on climate change comes in) and synthetic chemicals. Also, it is not biodegradable, it can’t be recycled and it is one of the largest sources of marine litter. Polystyrene costs the state and local governments millions of dollars each year to collect it from beaches, roads, sewers and storm drains. While polystyrene may be waterproof and durable, two necessities for takeout food and drinks, it is very difficult and costly to recycle (if possible at all) making this option not eco-friendly.
With more bans coming into place, restaurants that are known for takeout and drinks to go will have to evolve.
But don’t worry! It might not be all that bad…
There are plenty of sustainable alternatives that operators can purchase at similar prices to the polystyrene versions! The city of Takoma Park in Maryland (a state with the largest styrofoam ban) researched and compiled a resource section for restaurateurs filled with sustainable alternatives they can use. Their research breaks down the cost difference between sustainable alternative products and the styrofoam originals, as well as the overall change in cost for your restaurant.
The switch from styrofoam-based disposable products to sustainable substitutes may seem scary or even irritating at first, but the advantages of this switch will quickly add up. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will prove to your customers that you are doing something to help the problem.
Don’t think your customers will care?
The Nielsen Company completed a study and concluded that 75% of the global millennial population are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 66% of the global millennial population are willing to pay more to support brands “committed to a positive social and environmental impact.” There you go, it’s a win-win situation for your restaurant and our environment.
Now as a restaurateur, you can use this styrofoam ban to your restaurants’ advantage by marketing your environmentally friendly operations. Do this via your Social Media accounts, website or even inside your restaurant (add a little blurb about it on your menu)! Furthermore, you can encourage your customers to bring reusable bags and containers when they come to your restaurant for takeout orders or if they have leftovers. This is another small way to help environment, cut down on your own costs and prove your restaurant is part of sustainability movement.