Reusable Takeout Containers Could Help Reduce Plastic Waste Produced By Restaurants

We’ve got a plastic problem, and we’re all to blame. From straws and sandwich bags to most food packaging, these products sit in landfills once they’ve been thrown away, which is often after only one use. Restaurant takeout containers are also a big part of the problem; a pilot project in Montreal is looking to change that.

The Project

The pilot project is called Bo and will launch in two boroughs in Montreal, Canada this fall.

You can read the full story from CTV News here, but essentially, Bo containers are made of polypropylene plastic, which can be washed 1,000 times in a commercial dishwasher. You can also pop them into a microwave or the freezer.

People ordering takeout will download the Bo app, choose a participating restaurant (there are already 60 food joints that have signed up!), select the reusable container option, and provide their Bo identification number.

The only catch? Customers have to make an effort to return the clean containers within two weeks to one of the many drop-off sites in the target neighborhoods.

That doesn’t seem like too much of an effort when you consider that worldwide, humans produce 400 million tonnes of plastic every year!

Baby Steps

As many countries work toward producing zero plastic waste within the next several years, we can all take small steps in the right direction.

For example, my kids’ school lunches only include reusable Tupperware containers and washable sandwich or snack bags. Beeswax food wraps have replaced cellophane in my house, and I like to reuse freezer-friendly takeout containers.

And while I know these efforts help, a recent study suggests maybe not as much as I thought they did.

Truly Sustainable?

The market is flooded these days with reusable products that are advertised as being sustainable. Researchers at the University of Michigan compared the lifetime impacts of single-use plastics to reusable kitchenware products, such as bamboo straws, coffee cups, silicone bags and wraps, and more.

Published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment earlier this month, the study finds many so-called “eco-friendly” options don’t break even due to the water and energy needed every time the item is washed.

If you want to up your sustainability game, researchers suggest reducing your consumption of the more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic as well. For example, buy only one reusable coffee mug or metal straw, not multiples.

When it comes to washing the products, often, you can get away with a quick rinse instead of a massive soapy wash, too.

Of course, all products are made differently, and these findings aren’t accurate for all green options on the market today.

Doing your research is crucial; there are many wonderful items out there that are sustainable and making the world a better place.

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.