Convenience store operations across the country have come to depend on single-use foodservice packaging to keep their businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are everyday staples, like soda cups, take-out food containers and cutlery that have become ubiquitous in our lives.
That’s why, in a busy world where providing fresh, healthy and fun food options — plus a great customer experience — is a must, single-use foodservice packaging has become the best choice.
Single-use foodservice packaging not only allows your on-the-go customers to enjoy healthy meals and snacks anywhere, it provides the flexibility to serve thousands of customers daily. Plus, the ability to print on the outside of foodservice packaging can be a top-flight branding opportunity, not to mention a convenient communications tool to convey important messaging to customers, such as “Don’t litter” or “Please recycle or compost.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, single-use foodservice packaging has proven itself sanitary for customers, which — along with social distancing and other methods — makes your location a safe place to do business. Foodservice packaging is manufactured, packed and shipped so it arrives clean at your location. That means it greatly reduces the likelihood of foodborne illnesses and the spread of infectious diseases like the coronavirus.
What’s more, single-use foodservice packaging is supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which mandates its use in certain circumstances. Foodservice packaging materials are evaluated by regulatory agencies such as the FDA and Health Canada to ensure materials meet stringent safety standards.
A Historical Perspective
Foodservice packaging has been an unsung hero in many atypical situations and is the reason it came into existence. More than a century ago, Dr. Samuel Crumbine, a Kansas doctor and public health officer and reformer, started a campaign to end the use of the “Common Cup.” After witnessing a healthy child drink from this public-use metal cup immediately after a patient suffering from tuberculosis, he led the crusade to have this public drinking cup banned.
His campaign caught on to end their use, and the “Health Kup,” the first paper cup, aptly named for its purpose of preventing the spread of disease, was invented. Since then, single-use foodservice packaging has held the same sanitary benefits for foodservice operators and their customers.
In addition to the world’s current coronavirus crisis, foodservice packaging has played a critical role in past events. When the Spanish flu hit Kansas in 1918, Crumbine advised the public not to spit on sidewalks or drink from common drinking cups, which would spread germs.
Safe, Sustainable Choices
More recent studies confirm the sanitary benefits of single-use packaging. Conducted by winners of the Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award, health departments in Sacramento County, Calif., and Maricopa County, Ariz., further proved this after finding evidence of coliform bacteria and significantly higher microbial levels on the reusable items tested, compared to their single-use counterparts.
Consider also that single-use foodservice packaging is an environmentally sound choice. It reduces consumption of water and energy resources because it doesn’t have to be washed and dried, and when recycled, materials found in foodservice packaging can be turned into new products. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, paper and plastic packaging items make up only 1.4% of municipal solid waste.
The benefits of single-use items are undeniable. Convenience stores, whether chain-operated or independent, are realizing that these go-to products are minimizing the threat of foodborne illnesses and infectious diseases, like COVID-19, and ensuring the safe and sanitary delivery of foods and beverages to their customers. CSD
Natha Dempsey is president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, the trade association for the North American foodservice packaging industry. She advocates for the interests of the industry and champions its efforts to expand recycling and composting of foodservice packaging. For seven years, she administered the Crumbine Award.