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How Restaurants Can Stay Sustainable Through COVID-19

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Independent restaurants and cafes are the beating heart of our communities. As such they have been uniquely affected by closures and Shelter in Place orders.

The events of recent months have created a huge upheaval for businesses of all kinds. There is a limited amount of information available on how to move forward and it can be difficult to know how to balance the safety needs of your customers and employees.

compostable labels

Plastic bans have been reversed or paused in many states and countries due to health concerns. That doesn’t mean that we should abandon our commitment to the environment.

Eco-Friendly Pick-Up and Delivery During COVID-19

Many restaurants and cafes have made a successful change, utilizing delivery and pick-up to stay afloat.

Eco-friendly restaurants can still practice sustainable habits. Using compostable take-out containers and bags reduces a significant amount of plastic waste.

Combine your compostable to-go boxes with compostable labels. Compostable labels can display branding, list ingredients, and seal bags and containers. For disposal - containers, compostable label, and any leftover food can all be composted together.

Reopening Guidance for Sustainable Restaurants

Many states are preparing for reopening, some have begun already. What does that mean for diner and employee safety?

The FDA have released Guidelines on Best Practices for reopening Restaurants During COVID-19. These guidelines cover food safety and employee health. The National Restaurant Association has released reopening guidelines for direction and best practices.

California and the New York State Restaurant Association have also released guidelines. Be sure to check with your local government for information on your location.

window sign says welcome back

What do Restaurant Reopening Guidelines Mean for Sustainability?

Pick-up and delivery can create waste management problems. Safe reopening also comes with its own unique environmental challenges.

Many reopening guidelines assert that restaurants should consider single-use condiments and disposable cutlery. Both create a significant amount of plastic waste!

Should my Zero-Waste Restaurant Use Disposable Cutlery?

Official restaurant reopening guidelines recommend, but don’t require, single-use cutlery. However, many customers and diners have indicated a preference for disposable products.

Open Table recently surveyed diners about safety measures restaurants should take when reopening. One question asked: “What would make you feel safe dining out again?”

  • 72% of diners ranked strict cleaning policies as “Extremely Important”.
  • 42% of diners indicated that hygiene-wrapped silverware is “Extremely Important”.

Going forward, restaurants will need to balance sustainability with safety and customer needs. It is possible for eco-friendly restaurants to continue reducing waste - even in times of uncertainty.

reusable silverware vs compostable cutlery

Alternatives to Single-Use Plastic Cutlery

Using compostable cutlery can create visible cleanliness without creating extra plastic waste. Customers know that their cutlery has not been contaminated. Staff safety is also taken into account - your staff will not need to come into contact with used cutlery.

Compostable cutlery is also a great option for sustainable university dining halls. Any business or organization with canteens would benefit from reduced waste!

If you decide to go this route - wrap your compostable utensils in compostable cellophane for hygiene. Be sure that any stickers or labels used are also compostable!

Plastics lobbyists are using health fears to push for disposable plastics. Despite this, reusable products are safe so long as they are clean and sanitized.

Some of you may prefer to continue using traditional silverware. In this case, reopening guidelines recommend using rolled silverware and eliminating table settings. To help your diners feel confident it is important to be clear about your hygiene measures.

Reusable silverware is less wasteful than disposable in many ways. But, be aware that any tape or label used to seal the roll is likely to contain plastic. Labels with compostable and recycle-compatible adhesive are a great low-waste alternative. You can even have them custom printed with your restaurant branding.

If you buy pre-rolled silverware ask your supplier about eco-friendly options (or send them this article!)

Compostable Labels for Restaurants and Food Service

We appreciate the work that sustainable restaurants are doing to reduce plastic pollution. It’s important for all of us, even now, to consider the effect our waste will have on the environment.

When following restaurant reopening guidelines, it is possible to be both safe and sustainable. By choosing compostable labels, you can ensure that you are doing both.