As restaurants adjust their service models and real estate footprints to better accommodate off-premise orders for the long haul, they are also gaining new options to maintain the quality of their food in transit. A recent trend report from Nation’s Restaurant News mentions the Swedish company Dometic, which has launched a temperature-controlled delivery box designed to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Innovations like this could give restaurant operators more freedom to offer popular menu items that lose quality quickly when wrapped in traditional takeout packaging (and may have been removed from off-premise menus as a result).
An app-based reusable packaging system that has been piloted in restaurants this year might provide a model for how sustainable packaging can improve sales and loyalty (and harness the valuable guest data that comes along with it). A company called R.ware (an offshoot of the reusable R.cup often found in stadiums) allows restaurants to get propylene hard plastic packaging in a range of sizes and styles that can be washed and sanitized multiple times. Restaurants are given a small collection bin equipped with an iPad. After guests are finished with a take-out container, which is labeled with instructions on how to download an app and scan a QR code, they can return the container to the collection bin and start earning rewards. Participating restaurants have freedom to customize those rewards to entice guests to return. In the process, they are reducing waste – and likely gaining some fans who want to reduce their takeout waste too.