Why not just use reusable foodservice products? Well…do we really want to bring utensils, plates, bowls and cups to the drive-in window? For our lunch we carry on a plane? And most self-serve food bars/buffets and cafeterias won’t even allow customers to bring their own foodservice items for simple public hygiene reasons. It’s simply not a viable option for the way we live today.
While it clearly makes no sense to use plastic foodservice products all the time, it also makes no sense to use reusable foodservice products all the time. It does make sense to weigh the benefits and the impacts to make clear, well informed decisions.
As noted, reusable foodservice products have significant impacts on the environment. Reusable cups, dishes, plates, utensils, place mats, table coverings and other foodservice products require copious amounts of water and energy to clean, time and time again. Plastic foodservice packaging conserves these important resources and allows our schools and hospitals to save the water, energy, detergents—and money and labor—required to sanitize reusables.
All things considered, plastic foodservice products makes sense. Compared to alternatives, they generally use fewer resources and create fewer emissions to manufacture, they weigh less and they produce fewer air emissions during transport.