Education War Single Use Plastics

Thinking Twice about Single-Use Plastics in Your School Kitchen

October 10, 2019
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Single-use plastics have fallen out of favor with many businesses and organizations as they search for more sustainable alternatives. Should your school kitchen join this growing movement? By reducing the use of “one-and-done” straws, cutlery, bags and other plastics, you’ll not only help the earth but you’ll enjoy the added benefit of significantly lowering replacement and disposal costs. 


The time may be now to win goodwill on all sides by taking proactive steps to reduce the number of single-use plastics in your kitchen. Let’s look at practical ways to get in front of this hot-button issue.   


Plastic, plastic everywhere. Whether it’s the coffee stirrers and plastic bags everyone sees or the behind-the-scenes packaging few but you and your staff notice, it seems like you can find single-use plastics at every turn. And some items, like plastic straws, have gained such a foothold in society that it’s easy to assume they’ll never go away entirely. 


But doesn’t recycling address the issue? The answer is yes and not really. While it certainly plays a role, there’s simply too much to recycle and much still ends up where it doesn’t belong. Reducing or eliminating use remains the preferred, long-term way to address this issue (and cut down on those replacement and disposal costs). 


Making the possible practical. With so many single-use plastics in play, the challenge of eliminating them altogether —  or minimizing their use — may seem daunting. As always, the best way to know exactly what you’re up against is to conduct a thorough inventory that identifies the single-use plastics found in your kitchen.  


Once you take that important first step, you’ll find it much easier to determine which plastics you can eliminate immediately with little or no disruption. Would replacing plastic straws with paper straws at fountain machines be an easy win? How about switching from plastic to reusable cutlery? Or incentivizing the use of reusable totes? 


Only you can determine which moves make sense right away and which will require a more strategic, phased approach. Even grab-and-go items like the plastic bottles used for milk or juice can eventually be eliminated, but it might take longer to test alternatives that don’t adversely impact sales. 


What’s most important is to take those first few steps. They’re usually the hardest. And always the most critical.


Strategies for success. There’s no need to do any of this all by yourself. Enlisting administration, teachers, staff and students in a push to reduce single-use plastics will prove especially helpful for initiatives that require the greatest change to commonly held practices. More than likely, you’ll find them ready, willing and eager to join the fight. Here are a few starter ideas:


Form a green team whose mission is to identify and implement strategies for reducing waste. 
Provide discounts to anyone who brings their own coffee mugs or other reusable containers.
Transition from “grab and go” to “sit and enjoy” menu offerings which don’t require as much plastic.


To transition from “grab and go” menu offerings, it’s essential to have the right equipment for the job of cooking on demand. With it, you’ll be able to minimize both food waste and all that excess packaging required to keep food fresh and transportable. 


A great way to cut down on waste.


Cooking ahead typically uses more waste than cooking on demand, provided you’re not sacrificing speed, ease and the consistency of precision cooking. After all, burnt or poorly cooked food will only add to more waste.


You can count on Ovention’s Shuttle® 2000 conveyor oven to deliver speed, precision, volume and flexibility. It’s a great way to reduce your reliance on one-and-done plastics and other unnecessary waste.

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