There is no evidence that throwaway packaging is safer than properly cleaned and sanitized reusable packaging. The difference is that reusables are much more sustainable.

It all starts with…Hygiene First!

The U.S. Food Code has procedures for safe handling of food serviceware whether it’s reusables from a restaurant, reusables from an outside provider, or disposables. Many restaurants and cafes clean and sanitize their own reusable serviceware like plates and glasses–the ones you use when you dine in–all the time. Reusable to-go serviceware is a new and growing market (see the examples in What Really Works?), with businesses supplying clean and sanitized reusable to-go cups and containers for take out and delivery.

Data support that…Reusables Are Safe!

125 health experts signed a statement showing that reusables are safe during the Coronavirus pandemic. In contrast, the U.S. plastic industry, for example, has been pushing for disposables during the epidemic.  Several bans on disposables bags and other packaging have been suspended during the pandemic but some have now been reinstated and new bans have come into place since the pandemic hit, including a bag ban in the U.S. state of New Jersey that is the first to treat both plastic and paper bags the same.

“Fortunately, COVID is easily destroyed by proper washing, so restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses can still serve us using reusable items in ways that protect health without harming the environment.”

Matt Prindiville


Business as usual on packaging…Is dangerous!

When you look at the impacts under Why Does It Matter?, you see that our current packaging crisis threatens human health and the environment in many ways. Learn more here and here. Meanwhile, research by Greenpeace shows the plastic industry has been exploiting concerns about Covid-19 to reverse progress on plastics. The Product Stewardship Council has been tracking what is happening with single use packaging bans and fees.

“For years, the plastics industry has pushed industry-funded research to try to discredit the movement to end single-use plastic pollution. And when COVID-19 began to spread, they saw it as an opportunity to strike and activate their network of pro-plastic surrogates. Now more than ever, we need independent guidance from medical professionals to inform our decisions around hygiene and shopping. People’s safety should come before profits.”

Ivy Schlegel

Greenpeace USA

“It is crucial for businesses, and governments to know that as they reopen, reusable systems can be deployed safely to protect both our environment and workers and customers. To keep people safe and protect our planet, we should listen to the best available science instead of underhanded marketing from the plastic industry.”

Graham Forbes

Greenpeace USA

As we move forward…Innovations are Needed

For items that go between customers’ homes and the places where they shop, like personal mugs, refillable containers for groceries, reusable bags, etc., we are seeing that new systems will be needed going forward to ensure both safety for customers and workers and long term sustainability. Learn more here and here. During the pandemic, some grocery store chains have allowed customers to use their own reusable bags as long as they bag their own groceries, with some adding restrictions on where the bagging can take place and/or which check outs customers can use. Some stores stopped allowing reusables bags for a time but have returned to allowing them. Learn more here and here.

Join us in the movement
for sustainable packaging!

We are grateful to the following organizations for their contribution to the creation of this resource
and for their ongoing work to make packaging more sustainable around the world.

Click To Learn More And Get Involved:

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