Archive for fastfood

All those napkins…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 7, 2009 by Sarah

For today’s installment of “whats killing our planet” we are going to tackle wasteful product packaging that is hardly recyclable and almost always ends up in landfills.

Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs

Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs

A basic marketing principle to make a product look appealing and practical is to catch a consumer’s eye. It has become the trend to use plastic and thin films and wraps for food products to ‘keep its freshness’ (fresh seal container, plastic food wrap, disposable Tupperware, microwaveable trays, etc.) All of these new ways to keep food separated and juicy is usually plastic and disposable and ends up in the garbage.

One of the marketing revolutions that has wrecked havoc on our landfills is the “to-go pack”. This concept packages several of one type of food item into another larger box/bag and only creates more plastic or cardboard that will also get tossed. Even simple foods like carrots and apple slices can now come individually wrapped in plastic. (Um, eww?).

Wendys chicken salad

Wendys chicken salad

Other food items that do not come from a supermarket, like fast-food, can be notorious for over-packaging their food. Take Wendys for example.

They are well known for their burgers, fries and frosties. But I usually go for their salads. This is a picture of the mandarin chicken salad. (Plate not included). It is a great salad; surprisingly flavorful. However this one meal produces A TON of plastic waste. We are looking at several napkins, a plastic bowl and lid, plastic fork and wrapper, three wrappers for toppings and dressing, and a big over sized plastic bag that could be reused but rarely is.

Waste from a Wendys salad

Waste from a Wendys salad

The reasoning for this, I assume, is to keep all the food items separate until right before the diner eats. That could be right away in the restaurant, or not until after the long drive home. Either way, you know your chicken wont get cold, you lettuce wont get wilty and your croutons wont get soggy. As a salad connoisseur, I guess I can understand this.

But the price we pay to keep your croutons from getting soggy is an obscene amount of waste for one meal. And this is not unique to Wendys, or just salads for that matter. Most burgers/chicken/tacos etc., come wrapped in paper, then placed in a bag with a wad of napkins that end up in a landfill.

According to Associated Content of Science and Technology, most resaurants produce 8,200 pounds of waste per month. That equals 98,000 pounds per year. In that same year, the state of California along will generate 15 million tons of waste just from packaging from products we buy like cardboard and paper wrappers.

If we are ever going to see a change in the amount of stuff we are putting back into the ground, we are going to have to make some serious sacrifices as far as our manufactures food is concerned. In some ways, change might be in the hands of companies that produce the foods and package out burgers and salads. But there is also a responsibility left to us, the consumer. Personally, I think I am willing to start accepting soggy croutons. Are you?

This website which has some cool innovative non-wasteful packaging ideas from a marketing company in Japan, called PingMag …my favorite is the tofu balloon