Takeout Packaging Remains Prevalent During Pandemic

As restrictions begin to loosen up in many states, restaurants are reopening and folks can now dine at their favorite restaurants. This all comes with certain boundaries, though, such as limited capacities, social distancing procedures, proper employee protocols, indoor vs. outdoor dining, etc.

Yet, even with lessening of regulations, one thing that has remained consistent since the beginning of the pandemic— and there’s not been a lot of that lately — is the need for foodservice packaging. Not only is foodservice packaging necessary for takeout and delivery options, but it’s sanitary as well[JB1] . Something everyone can appreciate right now. 

We recently told the story of Dr. Samuel Crumbine and his contributions to the creation and evolution of foodservice packaging. If you recall, Dr. Crumbine initiated a campaign to end the use of the “Common Cup” after he witnessed a healthy child drinking from a public-use cup immediately after a patient suffering from tuberculosis. His campaign caught on and the creation of the “Health Kup” was the first paper cup — aptly named for its purpose of preventing the spread of disease.

Now more than ever, we are faced with the need to limit the spread of illness. While times have changed and we no longer rely on things like the “Common Cup,” this brief history lesson shows the sanitary benefits that single-use packaging offers foodservice operators and their customers.  Read the recent QSR article where FPI’s president Natha Dempsey talks about the history of single-use packaging, and how it has played a major role in this current pandemic, and has done so even before the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918!

Along with continued usage of takeout and to-go packaging comes the continued conversation about disposal of these items. FPI has been at the forefront to help create avenues for more recycling of foodservice packaging. Did you know that FPI’s Foam Recycling Coalition has awarded nearly $820,000 in grants to communities and recycling businesses in the United States and Canada? And, we’re hoping to reach $1 million soon.

We’re also creating more awareness around the recovery of foodservice packaging through recycling and composting. More and more cities and counties are reaching out to its residents to educate them on what they can and cannot recycle. They’re doing this with the help of FPI’s Community Partnership education grant. Stretching from Washington, D.C., to Denver, our partners who received this grant were provided communications resources and/or technical assistance from FPI as they expanded their recycling programs to include foodservice packaging. These outreach campaigns reminded residents not only what to recycle, but that only clean and empty items should be recycled. Since launching in 2017, this program has reached over 825,000 households!

We’ve been long-time advocates of reducing the impact of our products on the environment and decreasing the waste that ends up on land and in waterways. In circumstances where products can’t be recycled or composted, we’ve worked with Keep America Beautiful and the National Restaurant Association to produce Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing and Managing Litter for foodservice operators.

Whether folks are dining in or ordering their meals for delivery or to-go, foodservice packaging remains prevalent during this pandemic — it’s safe, sanitary and convenient. As an industry, we’re not only making sure that supply is being met, but that products are being disposed of properly whether through waste management, recycling or composting.

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