Reusable take-out food s can reduce plastic waste, emissions, costs
In the effort to reduce plastic waste in the restaurant industry—single-use takeout s, specifically—University of Michigan researchers compared the lifetime environmental impacts of single-use and reusable food s.Their findings support the idea that the number of times a reusable takeout gets used is a key factor impacting its sustainability performance. Depending on the single-use being replaced, the study found that the reusable alternatives—which initially use more energy and generate more climate-altering greenhouse gases—can break even with single-use s after four to 13 uses. “Reducing the quantity of single-use plastics in the restaurant industry by implementing reusable takeout systems has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save on energy, water and cost. Our study found that reusable s can outperform single-use in all impact categories,” said study author Greg Keoleian, director of U-M’s Center for Sustainable Systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability. The study, published online Jan. 5 in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling, reports that on a global scale, plastic production has accelerated dramatically over the past decades—leading to a sharp increase in plastic waste. In the United States alone, more than 90 times the 1960 amount of plastic municipal solid waste was generated in 2018. Single-use packaging contributes millions of tons of plastic waste to that total each year.