5 Innovative Sustainable Products for Restaurants

As consumers become increasingly aware of their environmental impact, the demand for sustainable products in restaurants grows.

From reducing plastic waste to sourcing ingredients locally, there are many ways for restaurants to become more sustainable.

One of the biggest changes they can make is opting for sustainable foodservice ware. The delivery and takeout industry has skyrocketed since 2020, leaving a significant environmental impact behind thanks to single-use plastic products.

But what are the sustainable products that could replace plastic? Let’s take a look at a few innovative products making waves in the foodservice industry.

What makes sustainable products eco-friendly?

sustainable products wood cutlery in compostable paper packaging on bed of moss

By now, we all know how dangerous plastics are to the environment. But single-use products are the worst of the worst.

Approximately 89% of the plastic in the ocean is single-use plastic items, like cutlery, straws, and bags. And a whopping 91% of all plastic is not recycled.

Plastic doesn’t degrade into nothing. It rips apart piece by piece until it becomes microplastic. 

These microplastics accumulate in our environment and get ingested by marine and wildlife. Once it enters our food chain, we consume it too.

Takeout and delivery are major parts of the restaurant business. Single-use plastic containers, cutlery, and cups all contribute to our growing plastic crisis.

Sustainable products can change this, but what makes a product sustainable, and what are the harmful “eco-friendly” products to watch out for?

Sustainable products aim to reduce pollution, conserve natural resources, are made from renewable materials, and promote environmental sustainability.

These products should have little impact on the environment during production, use, and disposal. They should be 100% compostable, biodegradable, or recyclable and leave no trace behind.

Alternatively, they can also be recyclable products that can be used again and again. 

But because we can’t guarantee that consumers will recycle their single-use products, natural products that decompose in natural environments are the way to go.

Learn More: The Single-Use Plastic Ban Breakdown

But what about bioplastics?

Bioplastics are plastics made from renewable resources. They’re labelled as compostable and a great alternative to single-use plastic, but they’re not as eco-friendly as it sounds.

Unfortunately, bioplastics can be just as harmful as conventional plastics.

Bioplastics need specific conditions and facilities to decompose, but they can still leave chunks of plastic behind — even under perfect conditions.

Worse, if they aren’t properly composted, they degrade as regular plastics do. This means that they leave microplastics behind that harm our environment and wildlife.

If you’re looking for sustainable products, bio-based plastic is not the way to go.

Learn More: 4 Reasons Bioplastics Won’t Solve Our Plastic Problem

zoomed in photo of a bagasse container

Why restaurants should prioritize sustainability

From food waste to delivery driver carbon footprints, the foodservice industry is a significant contributor to environmental degradation.

There are several reasons, outside of caring for the environment, that restaurants should prioritize sustainability.

Firstly, the demand for eco-friendly products and businesses is only increasing. And when restaurants demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, they are more likely to attract and retain customers who prioritize eco-friendliness.

On top of this, sustainability can also improve a restaurant’s reputation and brand image. 

By showcasing their environmentally responsible practices, restaurants can differentiate themselves from competitors and position themselves as leaders in the industry.

And lastly, choosing the sustainable route is simply the right thing to do. As businesses rely on the earth’s resources to operate, it’s important that they take steps to reduce their impact on the environment and promote a more sustainable future.

Learn More: 8 Ways to Practice Restaurant Sustainability

5 Innovative Sustainable Products

Sustainability has become a top priority for businesses across all industries. And with the single-use plastic ban in Canada, it has become especially important for the restaurant industry.

Plastic has been the number one choice for so long, so what can replace it?

Materials like wood, sugarcane fibre, and paper are ideal alternatives to plastic, as they’re all fully compostable and biodegradable.

These materials are home compostable and won’t leave a trace behind.

From single-use wood cutlery to compostable bagasse containers, the products below offer restaurants an opportunity to prioritize sustainability without sacrificing quality or convenience.

wood cutlery, sustainable products

1. Wood cutlery

A great alternative to plastic cutlery is wood cutlery.

Wood can be sustainably sourced and grown to produce wood products like cutlery. This helps crack down on deforestation and increasing carbon emissions.

Wood is a natural material that is fully biodegradable and compostable. It can break down in natural environments without releasing harmful chemicals or pollutants into the environment.

It’s also hygienic and food safe. Wood may not seem like an ideal material to use for cutlery as it absorbs liquid. But wood actually absorbs bacteria at a slower rate than plastic, with a lower rate of causing food-borne illness.

Single-use wood cutlery goes through an in-depth production process, including testing, that ensures every utensil is checked for issues and is sanitized before packaging.

Wood cutlery is a great sustainable product because it doesn’t bend and snap as easily as plastic. It’s durable and sturdy, able to handle normal use.

Learn More: Single-Use Wood Cutlery: Myths Debunked

2. Bagasse food containers

Plastic containers have long been a popular choice for transporting food. But unfortunately, the kind of plastic used to make them (PLA) has an extremely low recycling rate.

This is because many cities don’t accept Number 5 plastic in curbside pickups, which means that these containers have to be taken to a recycling depot.

Bagasse containers, on the other hand, are innovative sustainable products that offer an eco-friendly alternative.

Bagasse is a natural byproduct of sugarcane processing that is usually discarded as waste. This means it won’t take away from agricultural resources.

But this waste can be transformed into a sturdy, biodegradable, and compostable material ideal for food packaging.

Made from an extremely renewable resource, it doesn’t produce harmful pollutants or chemicals when disposed of. 

This sustainable product is versatile and convenient for restaurants. They’re perfect for hot and cold dishes, including soups, salads, and main entrees.

They are also microwavable and can keep food warm. Bagasse containers are durable and less likely to crack or leak, ensuring food stays fresh during transport.

airlaid napkins shaped like a crane

3. Airlaid napkins

Airlaid napkins are a great sustainable product to include in takeout bags. 

Unlike traditional paper napkins, airlaid napkins are made from a blend of wood or paper pulp and synthetic fibres that are compressed using air and heat, resulting in a soft, absorbent, and eco-friendly napkin.

Entirely biodegradable and compostable, these napkins break down naturally without harming the environment.

Additionally, because they’re made using a combination of recycled materials, they have a lower environmental impact than traditional paper napkins.

Airlaid napkins are a sustainable product that offers a superior user experience.

They’re more absorbent, durable, and free from harmful dyes. These napkins can easily soak up large spills without breaking down or losing their structural integrity.

Soft and luxurious to the touch, these napkins can enhance the overall dining experience for customers, whether they’re laid out on the table or placed in a takeout bag.

4. Bagasse soup spoons

Plastic spoons work so well that you could mistake them for silverware. But, like all other kinds of plastic, the environmental impact is severe.

An innovative product is bagasse soup spoons. Like bagasse containers, they’re made from sugarcane waste.

These spoons are sturdy, biodegradable, and compostable. And they don’t lose their shape or break down in hot broths or soups.

Unlike plastic spoons, bagasse soup spoons won’t release any toxic chemicals or pollutants when heated, making them a safe and healthy option for the delivery and takeout industry.

With this durable, sustainable product, customers can enjoy their warm bowl of soup without negatively impacting the environment.

5. Paperboard cups

Paper cups have been circulating for a while now, but most are lined with plastic, which means they aren’t sustainable.

This is where paperboard cups come in. Paperboard is a type of paper that is thicker and more durable than its traditional counterpart.

Paperboard is a resilient material that guarantees resistance to liquids and offers effective heat retention.

Made from renewable resources such as wood or paper pulp, they’re entirely biodegradable and can be composted after use.

And instead of a plastic lining, they can be coated with sustainable alternatives such as paper or plant-based coatings.

They’re perfect for restaurants and coffee shops, where customers can enjoy hot or cold beverages while prioritizing our planet.

bagasse container on bed of moss, sustainable products

Where to find a quality supplier of sustainable products

With greenwashing tactics getting out of hand, finding a reputable supplier of sustainable products can take time and effort. 

A quality supplier will work with you to find the right products that work for your restaurant. And they’ll be a company that genuinely cares about their impact on the environment and responsibly source their material.

If you’re unsure where to look for a quality and trustworthy supplier of single-use sustainable products, Origin Sustainables is here to help.

With over 30 years of experience under our belt, we provide high-quality single-use products to the foodservice industry.

We offer tailored solutions and customizable options, working closely with you to meet your specific needs.

We take pride in offering an extensive range of premium eco-friendly products that are truly compostable. 

Our products leave no trace on the environment, so the delivery and takeout industry can continue to thrive while creating far less waste.

Ready to make the switch?

Learn More: Greenwashing: Let’s Talk About It

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