Package Like a Green Restaurant
Food and drink packaging can be both costly and a detriment to the environment. When packaging is thrown away, such as plastic rings on six packs of soda or styrofoam cups and plates, they end up in a landfill. It can stay there for hundreds of years before completely breaking down. That's why it is so important to take a hard line on packaging.
One industry that has green packaging down pat is the restaurant industry. Some of these restaurants not only have the desire to be Eco-friendly, but also certain laws now dictate their packaging methods. So, we as amateurs, can takes some cues from restaurant owners.
Firstly, as Greg McGuire notes in The Back Burner, a restaurant blog, you must understand the difference between environmentally friendly packaging materials before you decide what to buy. Packaging materials fit into three main categories: compostable, biodegradable and recyclable.
The first category of compostable materials can be tricky. It is difficult to classify packaging materials as having the ability to compost completely. A regular compostable material breaks down in a six month time period. It break downs by using water, carbon dioxide and organic material in an ecosystem i.e. material that can decompose. The problem is that a composting material must be sent to a larger facility in order to decompose in six months. Otherwise, in a smaller facility, these materials will take a long time. One example of compostable packaging is compostable chip bags.
The second category is biodegradable packaging materials. They decompose by bacteria or fungi. However, as McGuire notes, "the problem is, no standard exists for the amount of time a product takes to biodegrade. And no requirement exists for the addition of agents like bacteria to aid the degradation process." Thus, the biodegradable option is not a great one because it does not reduce toxic emissions into the air nor waste.
The third category is recycling. Most packaging can be recycled in one way or another. It's a matter of teaching employees what and how to recycle. It also depends on your local government's recycling center. They may take certain recyclable items and not others.
As McGuire recommends, compostable packaging materials do cost more, but they are the best option for remaining Eco-friendly. And in the long run, it may save you more money to buy compostable packaging due to a reduction in waste disposal.
Now that we've heard from the expert, let's discuss how you can package green