Notoriously difficult to recycle, the classic to-go container is now accepted at more recycling facilities.
Discovering the most environmentally friendly way to package food is not easy. Although disposable products are still prevalent in our throwaway society, more consumers are getting in the habit of carrying their lunches in reusable containers.
However, fast food or food court restaurants serving takeout food do not have the option of giving out endless reusable containers
every day. Because of this, the amount of waste from restaurant takeout containers really piles up.
One type of container often used for takeout food is plastic clamshell containers. Plastic clamshell containers can be a controversial topic for environmentally aware consumers because they have a reputation for being nonrecyclable but are still often used for packaging food.
Plastic products are divided into different numbers (one through seven), aka resin codes
, that identify their chemical makeup. Many plastic clamshell containers are made of plastic #6, or polystyrene
, a category of products that are not always recyclable depending on regional recycling facility capabilities. But, more and more recycling programs are taking steps to accept them today.
Not long ago, plastic clamshell containers could not be recycled at all. They were often criticized and questioned by environmentalists for harming landfills and for being possibly toxic to food. Now there are a few steps environmentally friendly consumers can take to dispose these containers.
Double check the type of resin on your container, which should be found on the bottom, then consult your local curbside recycling program to find out if the plastic is accepted. If it is not accepted, you can search
for a recycling program near you that will take it.
The discussion on the recyclability of plastic clamshell containers will continue to lead to more recycling plants and companies accepting this product in the years to come.