Decreasing Plastic Waste in Restaurant Systems

Decreasing Plastic Waste in Restaurant Systems

Meredith Soward and Tai Verbrugge

Soward PlasticThe only option for plastic takeout containers in Duncan Student Center, which was part of the inspiration for this project initially.

Our paper sought to understand the history of the plastic industry, as well as the environmental, economic, and health impacts related to plastic production. Our project maintained its focus specifically on restaurants, but very little existing literature shared this focus. As a result, this research included information about the plastic industry as a whole with an emphasis on plastic packaging.

Packaging composed 26% of all plastics generated and used, and the United States currently leads the globe in plastic packing waste per-capita at more than 45 million MT annually. While not all of this packaging came from restaurants, the most common source of plastic in restaurants came in the form of packaging, so looking at packaging was most relevant to our scope.

Our paper addressed the history of plastic, including its invention, production, increased use, and presence of pollution. It addressed both the benefits and drawbacks of plastic with regards to human health, the environment, and the economy. We also considered the current progress that has been made in restaurants. The final section provided an overview of the key leverage points identified in existing literature, with proposed solutions.