What You Need to Know

Styrofoam is detrimental to the environment, the material takes over five hundred years to biodegrade. It is also made from cancer-causing chemicals that become dangerous when they come in contact with hot foods or liquids, because the material begins to decay. The toxic substances that makeup styrofoam are called Styrene and Benzene and have proven to be dangerous to humans.

#1, 2, and 5 Plastics, while safer for food consumption, still rely on extractive petroleum products and can have limited recycling opportunities. #6 Plastics cannot be recycled in Central Arkansas at all! When sourcing plastic containers, consider opting for those with post-consumer recycled content which supports a circular economy and increases the demand for recycled plastics. Whenever possible, educate your customers on the packaging you're providing to them - can it be recycled? backyard composted? Or does it need to be sent to the landfill?

Packaging leftovers in reusable, recyclable or biodegradable takeout containers leaves a lasting impression of social and environmental awareness on your customers. By helping the environment and offering a safer option, you are enhancing your restaurant’s brand. When done properly, guests bringing reusable containers to your restaurant for takeout can be a win-win: you save money on disposables, guests feel better about your green initiatives, and both of you are working together to reduce disposables in the waste stream.

To obtain Tier 1 Certification, you will demonstrate how you are allowing BYOC's into your business operations. We will want to see how you've messaged this to your patrons and what lessons you've learned in the process, as well as feedback you've received. You will probably be using containers in all sections of the To-Go Container Tier Chart with plans to eliminate styrofoam soon. Take inventory and "score" all of your current packaging according to our tiers and research alternatives for your styrofoam and non-recyclable options.

To obtain Tier 2 Certification, you will no longer offer styrofoam products and all of your containers should be Impact 2 or less (refer to the To-Go Container Impact Chart). You have also set up clear messaging about BYOC's and offer a station for allowing patrons to package their own To-Go orders in their containers. 


How You Could Start

Encourage guests to bring their own containers and take-out bags, but restrict their use to the front-of-house – equivalent to packaging leftovers. That way you are not inviting containers into your kitchen that aren’t designed for reuse or aren’t being properly cleaned and sanitized. Buy—and sell—reusable takeout containers and bags that are designed for reuse for those guests who want them. They can be properly cleaned and sanitized before being refilled, include your branding, and are ideally sized for your operation. Use these as an upcharge, incentive for loyal guests, and a way to discourage what sounds like a plastic container free-for-all.


Packaging Resources

Review the To-Go Container Impact Chart

Alternative Packaging Vendors List

To-Go Container Impact Score Card Preview

Review Rules and Regulations regarding reusables (highlighted on page 49 and pages 71-74)