LA Paper Box

Restaurants and Social Distancing: Take-out Orders are on the Rise

Restaurants and Social Distancing: Take-out Orders are on the Rise

With the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, everyday interactions like gathering in groups, shaking hands, and hugging have become concerns. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, at this time, we should avoid being within 6 feet of each other, frequently wash our hands, and avoid large public gatherings. For businesses, the CDC recommends that they develop outbreak response plans. Organizations should also encourage employees who don’t feel well to stay home, perform routine environmental cleaning and sanitization, and promote proper handwashing.

Restaurants will face challenges

Retail foodservice operations, like restaurants, food trucks, cafeterias, and cafes, are full of people — they are highly social environments. Restaurants must follow the guidelines and regulations provided by their local departments of health. Recently the CDC recommended against gatherings of 50 or more, and some states have enforced closing bars and restaurants. Drive-thrus will be allowed to stay open, and kitchens can still deliver food to homes. Some public school systems are offering grab and go breakfast and lunches. With take-out food orders on the rise, take-out containers will be a necessary component of disease prevention.

Take-out food containers make sense for disease prevention

Did you know that the first commercially successful single-use food container was the paper cup?

In 1907, Lawrence Luellen, a Boston lawyer, invented the paper cup to help prevent the spread of disease. At the time, the temperance movement was going strong, with leaders pitching water as a safe, sober alternative to liquor and beer. While water is certainly not intoxicating, the method for distribution was tin pails. People would pull a drink out of the tin, spreading infectious diseases in the process. Luellen dubbed his cup the Health Kup, later changing its name to the Dixie Cup. Single-use foodservice containers followed, which helped make the spread of foodborne illnesses like listeria, diphtheria, and E. Coli rare events.

Prepare for changing trends

At Greif CPG, we know that even in the best of times, running a successful restaurant presents challenges. Today’s challenge will be for foodservice operators to be able to handle an increase in take-out orders. Restaurants in highly affected areas, like Seattle, are reporting a severe drop in customers choosing to dine in. As the disease spreads, this trend will too. Stocking up on take-out containers like paperboard trays and boxes is a wise idea for restaurants of all sizes. And, if you’re not already offering take out, you should consider this option.

Our LA Paper Box division helps restaurants on the west coast with sustainably-sourced, environmentally friendly paperboard foodservice containers. We use the safest coatings and work to ensure that our recycled paper stock is toxin-free.

Contact us for ordering information.

Posted by Julia Briggs in LA Paper Box
Foodservice Packaging: A Complicated Relationship

Foodservice Packaging: A Complicated Relationship

Around the world, a growing part of the population is saying that their relationship with foodservice packaging – like containers, wraps, trays, and tubs – is complicated. Indeed, people love the convenience of single-use foodservice containers. Any time we order take-away, fast food, and at a growing number of fast-casual restaurants, we use single-use containers. Worldwide, the foodservice packaging industry stands at about $53 billion in 2019, and analysts expect that number to double by 2025, reaching almost $91 billion nearly. We love the convenience of getting food quickly and going about our busy lives.

Foodservice packaging solves a serious problem

One of the primary benefits of foodservice packaging is sanitation. The first single-use foodservice container was a paper cup, invented in 1907 by Lawrence Luellen, a lawyer from Boston. As people moved into cities during industrialization, communicable diseases ran rampant through growing urban centers. Typhoid, diphtheria, cholera, and polio were common infections and killers. To give you an idea, in Indiana, a low population density state then and now, diphtheria killed 3,727 people in 1893 alone. That was more than 9-1/2 times the number of people who died from smallpox. In the cities, it could be even worse. The paper cup spawned a new industry – one that saved countless lives.

Another reason we like food packaging is that we believe it helps us prevent food waste. There’s an inherent value to food that we all appreciate. Even in times of plenty, the idea of throwing out perfectly good food is unacceptable to many. Unfortunately, it’s a tradeoff. A lot of food packaging, including foodservice packaging, is made of plastic. Single-use plastics contribute to our most significant source of municipal solid waste (MSW) – plastic.

Foodservice packaging causes some serious problems, too

Food waste isn’t far behind plastic in the MSW charts. Food, though, is organic and biodegrades. Many communities around the world have started municipal composting efforts, separating food waste from the rest of the MSW stream. These in-home sortation efforts echo glass, metal, and plastic recycling efforts.  

Awareness among consumers is growing. The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), over the past five years, has shown that the public believes that foodservice packaging is waste.  This perception is backed up by search trend data from Google. Over the past ten years, searches for the term “single-use plastic” has grown exponentially. People are concerned about the environment and are interested in how their choices impact their world.

Consumers want the good without the bad

Public perception is one challenge among many in the foodservice packaging landscape. As FPI noted in both their press releases, consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, rising labor costs with fewer available workers, price pressure from buyers, and increasing raw material costs are affecting the industry year in and year out. These concerns exist across the foodservice industry. Restauranteurs face rising operating and food costs and new minimum wage laws while dealing with a more competitive landscape than ever before.

At Greif LA Paperbox, we work to help our customers do better for their customers and the environment every day. Restaurants’ foodservice packaging choices communicate their values to their diners. Their customers are looking for better quality, healthier, more environmentally conscious choices. Fast food, take-out, and fast-casual food require single-use foodservice packaging. Choosing paperboard single-use foodservice containers from LA Paperbox lets you show off high-quality, healthy food with a clear environmental message.

To find out more about LA Paperbox, get in touch with us. We’re always happy to talk.

Posted by Brian Harrington in LA Paper Box, Sustainability
Working to Create Toxic-Free Fast-Food Packaging

Working to Create Toxic-Free Fast-Food Packaging

Consumers are growing more health-conscious and are demanding healthier options from restaurants and food producers. For a restaurant, that can mean changing portion sizes, developing lower-calorie dishes, sourcing fresher foods, and evaluating their food-contact packaging.

Paper product manufacturers have used fluorinated compounds to create grease barriers. These compounds work well for this application because they are heat-resistant and have a long half-life; they don’t break down quickly. This barrier keeps the grease from your burger, pizza, taco, or fries from staining your car seat. But, fluorinated substances have a dark side. They are harmful to human health.

It’s the “Forever Chemical”

Studies have shown that consumption of fluorinated compounds, like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are found in food-contact packaging, can lead to cancer, low birth-weight, obesity, and immune suppression. These compounds readily transfer from the paper into the food and hang around for a long time in our bloodstreams. They’ve rightfully earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Governments are taking action

Because of these risks, beginning in July 2020, Denmark will ban the use of fluorinated compounds in food-contact paper and paperboard products. America is taking action, too. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 535, which prohibits certain PFAS substances and gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to review and regulate other PFAS-class compounds; there are over 4,000. The legislation is expected to go before the Senate later in 2020. The EPA has a great infographic explaining all the ins-and-outs of fluorinated substances.

Consumer and media attention

Public interest in fluorinated compounds is rising. The media’s attention is growing, as well, running stories like this one: PFAS chemicals in take-out food containers pose health risks according to experts. Imagine a story like that running about your restaurant. It’s probably not good for sales. We can turn to a founding father for advice. Benjamin Franklin said in 1736 to Philadelphians fearing fire, that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Choosing food-contact paper products that have no added fluoridated substances is easier than challenging the growing body of scientific consensus and public opinion.

Here’s what you can do

At Greif, we are committed to helping you deliver healthy, safe food to your customers. We can stand behind that statement because we don’t use fluorinated compounds in our paperboard manufacturing process, plain and simple. According to the Cancer Free Environment Network, the best way to reduce the spread and growth of these toxins is to stop producing them. Given the long life and durability of PFAS compounds, they are “forever chemicals”, we can’t guarantee that our post-consumer paperboard is free of the toxins. We can, however, guarantee that we do not accept any post-consumer content with known PFAS coatings and will never use them in our manufacturing process. 

Choosing LA Paper Box means you’re putting the health and safety of your customers first. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you work towards a toxic-free food future.

Posted by Brian Harrington in LA Paper Box, Sustainability