Sustainable Restaurant Products: France Bans Disposable Restaurant Products, Tim Hortons Invests In Recycling and Reuse
The writing about sustainable and reusable packaging has been on the wall for a while. Across the globe, cities, states and entire countries have taken measures to limit single-use plastics, specifically within the food space.
Often these choices are voluntary, but new legislation in France will force the hand of every fast food restaurant in the country to start using reusable products.
On Jan. 1, a new rule banning single-use packaging and utensils for eat-in and takeout will go into effect.
"It's an emblematic measure that if properly implemented will make a very concrete difference for people," Moira Tourneur, a spokesperson for nonprofit Zero Waste France, said, according to France 24. "It definitely goes in the right direction."
Under the guidelines of this new rule, plates, knives and forks, packaging, and dishware must be reusable. That means that not only do restaurant workers have new tasks to clean these products, it means that they need to educate customers, too.
Subway restaurants in France have used posters to start a "public awareness effort" to inform customers not to simply throw away the products when they were done eating.
Other environmental nonprofits responded positively to the new measures, but the European Paper Packaging Alliance, however, claims the rule is too strict, arguing that most single-use containers are made from renewable resources anyway, and therefore more environmentally friendly than they are given credit.
They're right about single-use products made from environmentally conscious materials becoming more common. A lot of single-use products are now made with more eco-friendly products that are biodegradable and/or more easily recycled.
Tim Hortons, the beloved Canadian coffee chain, announced that it will introduce wooden cutlery in early 2023. It's also reducing the use of single-use plastic lids and bowls by integrating lids made from plastic-free, recyclable fiber.
"Through our sustainability platform Tims for Good, we're always looking for ways, big and small, to make thoughtful choices on material and design in order to reduce and eliminate packaging and contribute to more sustainable innovation," Paul Yang, senior director of procurement, sustainability and packaging at Tim Hortons, said in a press release.
Tim Hortons restaurants in Vancouver also started a plan similar to Starbucks, where customers could pay a deposit for a reusable and returnable cup, which they can then drop off at more than 60 return points across the city (including the restaurant).
As these programs catch on, and business work out the kinks, these types of programs will become more familiar, until they are suddenly the norm. Whether that happens by choice or by law is unclear. It could be a mix of both.
But, the simple truth is that demand for more eco-friendly packaging and products, as well as signage and other products to educate customers on the new products, will continue to grow.