Where big companies step in, innovations tend to happen faster. We’ve long seen that retail-level and fulfillment innovations take off when giants like Walmart and Amazon adopt a process or policy. Starbucks is one of those foodservice giants propelling more eco-friendly foodservice packaging innovations.
Starbucks announced this week that it will be making additional steps to reduce single-use plastics in its restaurants and will increasingly incorporate ways to reduce single-use products altogether as it develops improved processes for reusable cups and plates.
There are a lot of different ways that restaurants and coffee shops are testing greater use of reusable cups, plates, and utensils:
- Borrowing programs are being tested by a number of salad/sandwich places and coffee shops. In these programs, if you don’t use the plate or cup for dining on-site, you bring it back to the restaurant or an authorized collection bin and then get a fresh one with your next order. Some programs require the use of a loyalty card that tracks the cups and plates, while others use deposits that are returned or credits that are applied when the cups and plates are logged in as returned.
- The development of on-site washing services is another potential avenue as customers can bring in their own cups, plates, and utensils. Sometimes this washing is done by the foodservice facility itself and other times they offer a low- or no-touch self-service wash station.
Each have their own challenges in areas such as logistics, costs, water-use, heath-code compliance, and speed of order fulfillment. The bigger logistical challenge is always going to be how to use a customer's own cup in a drive-thru line without holding up the line.
However, where there's a will (and there is), there's a way. Solutions will be created and those who develop them stand to make a lot of money by solving a widespread problem.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly Packaging industries, as well as Food & Beverage industry analysis and consumer insights from our sister publisher Packaged Facts. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.