Navigating bring-your-own containers for Chicago takeout
A few weeks ago I walked into my local Sichuan restaurant with a bunch of empty plastic containers and an odd question:
- "Would it be OK if I ordered my food for here, but then packed it all in my containers to go?"
Why it matters: The pandemic has seen a sharp rise in single-use plastic, including food containers, as people try to support restaurants with takeout. But less than 9% of US plastic is recycled.
- Plastic production and incineration contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
- The most recent EPA data shows the U.S. dumped 10 million tons of plastic into landfills in 2018.
- Chicago Department of Public Health officials confirm that the only legal way for patrons to use their own containers at a restaurant is to pack the food themselves.
What happened: After some discussion, the staffer agreed and told me to come back in 15 minutes, when I would find my five dishes plated on the bar.
- I returned to find him placing the final dishes next to others already covered with plastic wrap.
- I took out my big spoon, packed the food into my containers, popped them in my bag and walked home for a nice dinner.
- Meanwhile, my patient partner Colin took above video of my antics as requested.
Questions for restaurateurs: Would you allow customers to pack their own takeout at your place? And, if so, what would be the least disruptive way to do it?
- You can write to us at [email protected]
Question for diners: Would you patronize restaurants more if they let you easily pack food in your own containers?
- You can respond to this survey here.
More Chicago stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.