August 14, 2017

Post consumer recycled plastic

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We’re testing a ton of changes to our menu right now. Most of them are centered around a realization I came to the other day: most of our customers are taking food to go.

On the food trucks it was never clear if food was for here or to go.

Our first restaurant at Harvard Square (at 7 Holyoke St., now re-located 30 ft down the street) was 20% to go. Last week we were running almost 80% to go at our location in the Financial district. 80% to go.

And we haven’t changed anything over that time. I felt really stupid when I figured this out. We don’t have drinks that travel. We cut tomatoes AFTER you place an order. But 30 minutes later? Our food isn’t as amazing. We love light packaging, but that’s not always the best for travel.

So we’re rethinking a bunch of things with this in mind. Our Tuesday Food Development meetings (which you’re invited to attend) are super busy right now. We’re tearing our menus apart.

And I’m re-thinking packaging. In 2010 we were the first restaurant in the country to go 100% compostable. We wanted to recover all the food stuff you didn’t eat and we didn’t want plastic going to landfill. Everything we handed you was compostable. Now just as that’s catching on I’m thinking of ditching the compostables.

But if you’re taking our food to go the chance you’re dropping that packaging in a commercial composter is near zero.

So I’m thinking maybe we go a different direction: post-consumer recycled plastic.

This is something I explored in 2010 as an alternative to compostable PLA. But at that time the FDA hadn’t approved it for food use. But now you can buy safe post consumer recycled plastic.

What does that mean? Most plastic you buy is virgin. Before it was a cup it was oil and stuff. Post-consumer recycled plastic had a former life as something plastic.

Add a bit of re-use to post-consumer plastic, then recycle it, and you might just have the best possible container from an environmental standpoint.

We’re piloting twist top bottles in our restaurants right now. They are recyclable, but not post-consumer. But if we like this product (meaning you like this product) we will have a run of post-consumer versions made for us.

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