US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Food Carryout & Delivery Trash – A Modern Dilemma Intensified by Pandemic Eating Habits

A Washington Post restaurant critic recently took a hard look at the trash (unrecyclable) that resulted from his food takeout habit. He noted, “The stream of paper, plastic, aluminum and glass that came through my door from roughly 30 orders shocked and depressed me. I accumulated enough waste to fill two recycling containers — nearly 100 gallons of space — not to mention a torrent of guilt.”

Many consumers are feeling that way, particularly as their dine-in habit shifted to delivery and takeaway, which resulted in a shift from reusable dinnerware and utensils to single-use dinnerware and utensils. This spike in single-use products is even higher as restaurants are using extra packaging, especially bags and wraps, to show customers that they are being as safe and hygienic as possible. Additionally, as more complex meals and family-style kits are being offered for carryout, restaurants are using even more containers per order to maintain the integrity of the food until the consumer eats it.

So what can consumers who want to limit their trash do?

  • seek out restaurants that use returnable or reusable containers
  • look for restaurants that use paper-based containers rather than plastic ones or versions coated in plastic, as multilayered versions and most plastic containers cannot be recycled or composted
  • ask restaurants about their packaging options – to owners, the decision to go green is as much about the push from consumers as it is about the pull from suppliers
  • refuse the disposable utensils, napkins, and straws – especially if you are dining at home where you have your own utensils and napkins
  • skip ordering a drink and use something you have onsite to eliminate the use of cups, lids, straws, and carrying containers
  • order for multiple meals at a time (group with friends/neighbors or think ahead beyond the current meal) so that trips and packaging space are maximized

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see Freedonia’s newly published USRestaurant Reopening Impact Report as well as Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Food Carryout & Delivery as well as the companion report with timely consumer insights from our in-house survey capabilities. The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research provides a strong complement to packaged food industry analysis, including Global Foodservice and packaging industry titles such as Foodservice Single-Use Products and Global Foodservice Single-Use Products. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging