by Carol Weinstock
Many of us stop by our favorite restaurant for Chinese or other take-out on the way home from work. It’s easy to do after a long, hard day. Then we eat, dump the container in the trash and relax.
That container, however, has a life of its own. If it’s Styrofoam, it may well sit in a landfill for up to a million years, according to some estimates. And no packaging can be recycled if contaminated by even a small amount of food. So SPEC, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, launched Green 2 Go to reduce take-out packaging and encourage use of fully reusable, compostable or recyclable alternatives. This might include pizza boxes, disposable cups and plates, bags, cartons, wraps, trays and more. Such waste adds 25,000 tonnes to local landfills annually.
Funded by a community grant from VanCity, SPEC has completed a study to help restaurants choose a more sustainable to-go container, explained Sara Blenkhorn, the organization’s waste committee coordinator.
The study, to be released in the next few weeks, shows that of 500 BC residents polled via social media, 91 percent favour a surcharge of up to or more than 25 cents to pay for sustainable packaging “Restaurants might band together on to-go containers that can be returned,” she said, citing one possibility. These might be metal, such as a tiffin-style lunch boxes, which are widely used in India and can keep food warm for two to three hours. “Our research targeted (restaurants)…we’re giving them the information they need to make the right choice.”
The study will be uploaded to SPEC’s website, condensed into a handout with graphics, and also sponsor workshops, presentations and various outreach efforts to inform restaurants, other businesses and the public about the Green 2 Go project.