Reducing Food Waste in Restaurant Takeout and Delivery
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Reducing Food Waste in Restaurant Takeout and Delivery

Reducing Food Waste in Restaurant Takeout and Delivery

Sometimes, after a long day, you just don't feel like cooking, so you order takeout or delivery from your favorite restaurant. Eating out without leaving your couch is easier than ever with delivery apps these days. But takeout and food delivery generates a lot of food waste. According to the EPA, approximately 45% of material in U.S. landfills is food waste and packaging. If you're in the restaurant business, you can reduce this amount.

Utensils and Packets

Imagine you're feeling hungry, so you decide to order a burger to go from your favorite burger joint. When you open the bag, you find you have ketchup and mustard packets as well as utensils. It's a burger! Are you going to use a knife and fork like an aristocrat? You also likely have ketchup and mustard at home. So you put the packets in the junk drawer, thinking you'll use them at some point. MacGyver could make a hang glider out of all this, but you're not MacGyver.

All this adds up to a lot of plastic and paper that's just thrown away. It's such a problem that the city of Berkeley, California, has instituted a 25-cent fee for disposable cups.

The simplest solution is to give these items only to people who ask for them.


If the packets were bad enough, think of the containers. These are often single-use plastics that often aren't recyclable. Fortunately, biodegradable takeout packaging is becoming more available.

Another idea would be to have customers bring their containers for filling.


Restaurants can encourage their customers to recycle when they can. However, it is difficult because what can be recycled varies from community to community. You can set an example on the premises with recycling bins for things like paper or food scraps that are easier to recycle or compost.

It can be as simple as printing a reminder on your takeout packaging. Sometimes a subtle guilt trip can work wonders when getting people to adopt eco-friendly habits. With all of these tips, it's possible to enjoy great food without filling up landfills or warming the planet.

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