How Your Business Can Save The Planet With Food Containers
It’s safe to say that even if you’ve been living under a rock (which, let’s be honest, is pretty tempting), you’re probably aware that we’ve been living through a global pandemic. For businesses that provide food to hungry customers, business volume grew 135%. This growth is only going to accelerate as new customers enter the ecosystem.
Market forces are powerful--as business volume increases, competition increases, prices trend down, and consumers are going to be expecting to pay less money. Businesses can save money, and the planet, by making smart, economical decisions about their food packaging systems.
Reuse and Recycle?
As these new ways of ordering food and having it delivered to the customer have evolved and advanced, so, too, have the methods we’ve developed to package it. Awareness of climate change has increased along with everything else, and people are no longer satisfied with the old way of doing things.
One option is to use, wash, and then reuse the same packages over and over again. A company called Vessel is doing exactly that with stainless steel cups that users can “check out” like a library book and when they’re finished, return to a kiosk. This cup can then be washed and reused.
A similar business model is implemented by Ozzi, which provides reusable containers for all types of food that are used, returned, washed, and reused over and over again. Their containers are meant to last for a long time and have all the features you would expect from a disposable container.
Reusable Is Convenient, In Very Specific Cases
If you’ve ever sent somebody home with leftovers after a party or dinner you’ve hosted, then you know some of the challenges inherent in this system. Getting your container back is only part of the problem--some food can stain the containers it’s in, which is fine if you and your family are the only ones using them. We’re also more likely to trust that something is thoroughly washed and disinfected if we’re in control of the process of cleaning it. While there’s no reason to think that these companies aren’t thoroughly cleaning their reusable containers, it’s no substitute for our own elbow grease.
Another problem with these reusable solutions is that they rely on a centrality that simply doesn’t exist in most modern living situations. They’re great for cafeterias and food courts, but not ideal for the suburbs or city blocks. The more pressure we put on consumers to do the heavy lifting for services, the less willing they will be to spend their money on them. That’s no good for anybody.
What Are Your Options?
The clear option for most restaurants is to use disposable containers. Reusable to-go containers are fine in very specific circumstances but probably won’t work for your business. If you’re going to go with disposable, and you probably are, then your options are intimidatingly huge. You can go with plastic, which has become a default option for many, or you could use styrofoam. The problems with these options are immediately apparent to anybody who’s ever used them: you get what you pay for.
Lowest Cost Means Lowest Quality
If you don’t care about sustainability, value, or a delightful customer experience, then you can just use the absolute cheapest, weakest, leakiest containers for the lowest prices. Rather than innumerate all of the great reasons to use something other than the cheapest product (in both value and usability), we’re going to continue along the journey that Zume has begun and spread the gospel of sustainability and lower cost.
Sometimes You Can Have Both
By analyzing what you need, taking stock of your own values, and gauging the desires and values of your customers, you can implement a packaging solution that is both sustainable and less expensive than similar containers. The molded fiber options provided by Zume, for example, hit that perfect sweet spot among lower expense, higher quality, and positive ecological impact.