Shouldn’t there be regulations against packaging for “dine in”?

Everytime I’m at a fast food place, I’m amazed by the amount of packaging that is used solely to transport food from the kitchen to your mouth, and then discarded. It’s clearly incredibly wasteful, but nobody seems to notice or care. Fair enough (most people aren’t immediately concerned), but shouldn’t there be some legislation against such gross waste?

A few places make inconsistent efforts to provide plates and cutlery. Nandos will put your food on a plate if you’re dining in, but they will often include some unnecessary packaging as well. For example, they will wrap the burger in grease-proof paper, or place the chips in a bag and then on the plate. What’s the point? Are their plates dirty or something?

I think the general perception would be that it’s crazy to make fast food places provide plates and glasses for dine-in, but I really feel that this has just been trained by familiarity (rather than based in logic). Other types of restaurants serve food on reuseable crockery; Why not fast food restaurants? When I was in Thailand, KFC served food on a special food tray (like a plate with sections) and drinks in glasses. It just made sense.

9 thoughts on “Shouldn’t there be regulations against packaging for “dine in”?”

  1. As usual I don’t favour blanket legislation, but a market solution: The problem as I see it is that the cost to the fast food joint of disposing of the waste is probably not in proportion to the cost to the environment. (you also need consider the environmental cost of washing dishes with water, but I suspect it’s the labour that makes that expensive) Maybe should also increase the cost of making paper in the first place if those trees are worth more to us than we’re getting.

    I suppose the packaging is applied before they know whether that item will be taken away or not, leaving the eat-in customer to do the extra unwrapping in order for the take-away service to be faster. Ask for a burger with no wrapping next time you dine in. It’d be amusing to see whether they prepare it unwrapped especially, or just unwrap one for you.

    Toothpicks to denote hotness? I should be wearing one of those.

  2. I think reasonable compromises are an industry code-of-practise, or a federal levy on disposable packaging (the threat of which may be enough to force the industry to consider a preemptive code-of-practise).

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