by Maggie Shea, Chef Magazine

This article is the online exclusive Foodservice Business article for the August 2009 issue of Chef Magazine.

Many restaurant seats remain empty across America as diners opt instead to order in or carry out to save on tips, alcohol costs and transportation. In hopes of capitalizing on increased demand for more take-out and delivery choices, restaurants--from the fine-dining Park 75 Restaurant at the Four Seasons Atlanta to New York City's famous Katz's Deli--are now offering more menu items for delivery and carry-out. Still, with the continued focus on sustainability, operators must ensure that take-out containers, tableware and bags are environmentally friendly.

Fortunately, the list of suppliers offering compostable, sustainable and renewable take-out products on the market is long. Here is a roundup of some of the latest items and services making take-out a little greener.

Innoware expands eco-friendly container line

Atlanta-based Innoware Plastic Inc. has added two new products to its OctaView line of U.S.-made, environmentally friendly to-go food containers. Hinged Dual-Color Eco OctaView containers are made with completely sustainable and renewable plant-based (instead of petroleum-based) resin, which results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. And all Eco line products are compostable and biodegradable where facilities exist. An added plus: Their tan base and clear lid enhance presentation.
16" Hinged Eco OctaView container from Innoware

Additionally, InnoWare's new Hinged Dual-Color PETE OctaView containers are made from PETE resin (formerly known as polyethylene terephthalate), which are made with at least 50 percent post-industrial recycled plastic and can be recycled where facilities exist. The PETE line material is gas- and moisture-resistant, keeping food fresh longer. It also offers low taste and odor transference for sensitive food items such as baked goods. For more information, call (800) 237-8270, or visit

Solo adds something 'sweet'
For operators seeking an alternative to foam, single-use take-out products, Highland Park, Ill.-based Solo has added Bare, a line of compostable sugar cane dinnerware and take-out containers. Made with annually renewable resources, the Bare line of sugar cane plates and bowls is compostable in commercial composting facilities. The containers' durable, hinged clamshell design offers a secure, one-finger closure that is soak-through resistant. For more information, call (800) 367-2877, or visit

PWP opens in-house recycling facility
Packaging With Perfection (PWP) Industries, Vernon, Calif., is opening its own in-house plastic recycling facility in Davisville, W.Va., in partnership with Coca-Cola Recycling LLC. The facility will recycle PETE post-consumer bottles into FDA-compliant resin for food contact, allowing PWP to increase its product range containing post-consumer resin, save energy, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and keep plastic materials out of landfills. In addition to this effort, PWP also has added the AgroResin line of sustainable packaging. The 100 percent degradable and compostable trays are made of renewable agricultural biomass fiber and are FDA-approved for direct food contact. The trays come in both square and rectangular shapes and are microwavable and moisture-resistant. For more information, call (877) 700-0330, or visit

PrimeWare adds to eco-friendly line
From Burlingame, Calif.-based PrimeLink Solutions LLC, PrimeWare offers tableware, hinged lid containers and cup carriers that meet today's standards for eco-friendly manufacturing. PrimeWare's line of compostable molded fiber tableware uses only sustainable raw materials and is made with a byproduct of sugar cane called bagasse, which provides durability as well as cut and moisture resistance. The manufacturer's selection of biodegradable, compostable hinged lid containers offers a unique ribbed sidewall design and superior insulation for temperature control of hot or cold foods. PrimeWare also has added new eco-friendly PLA Lined hinged lid containers to this line, which add a moisture and grease barrier for hot foods. PrimeWare's sturdy cup carriers are made with all post-consumer recycled material and are biodegradable and compostable. PrimeWare recently expanded this line with two new products that contain compartments for wrapped foods in addition to beverages. For more information, call (650) 375-1398, or visit

Large bowl joins Anchor line of reusable containers
Anchor Packaging, St. Louis, Mo., has introduced three new large Incredi-Bowls (24-ounce, 32-ounce and 48-ounce sizes) to its Micro-Raves line of polypropylene take-out containers. These dishwasher-safe bowls can be used again and again, and they are eligible for recycling after use. They also are heat-resistant, vented and anti-fog, making them ideal for single and multi-servings of both hot and cold prepared dishes. These bowls offer ridged design features and a positive locking bowl and lid suitable for stacking up to three high on countertops and in transit. For more information, call (800) 467-3900, or visit

Encore offers environmentally sound plastic bags
For operators who prefer plastic carry-out bags for their
durability, Vernon, Calif.-based Command Packaging offers its Encore line of plastic bags that reduce environmental impact. These Environmentally Preferred Rated bags are made with recycled content that is recyclable at any Command or recycling collection location. The bags are nontoxic and can match or exceed the holding power of most bags. Command also offers a biodegradable additive to any of the existing styles and sizes in its Encore line. This feature speeds up the degradation of the bag's material once it's exposed to microbial environments like soil and bacteria. Bags maintain their standard shelf life until exposure to microbial environments. For more information, call (800) 966-2247, or visit