In order to reduce consumption, the municipality of Liepājas has launched the “Don't buy extra, come with your own!” initiative and placed labels and information in catering establishments.
“Let residents pay attention to their habits with regard to taking food: hot drinks - coffee, tea, lunch taken to offices. We addressed catering businesses, because every year there is a growing demand for food takeawayservices, which was also shown to us by Covid-19 time, which means that the discard culture is increasing because the consumption of disposable dishes is very high,” said the local government representative.
Latvian Radio visited Liepāja's concert hall cafe at lunchtime. Marta, who serves lunch at the cafe, said that a disposable takeaway dish costs 35 cents. Used daily, it would cost around €90 per year.
“If you come with your glass dish, it's cheaper. People turned their attention to the [campaign] labels, but well, those who come with their dishes come regularly,” said Marta.
Latvian Radio addressed several diners.
“99% of the time I take it away. Unfortunately I am lazy. I could take my own dish, and I think there might also be some kind of a cycle that [dishes] go round.v
“I take food away for the first time, I like dining on the spot more. Time constraint this time. I didn't see the labels on the initiative, the idea was good, but it had to be bigger, hard to see.”
“I hadn't noticed that I could take my own dish. I work two jobs, sometimes I have to take [food] for the trip, but I try not to do it regularly. If I had convenient dishes, I'd take. I didn't know, really, maybe it would be a burden for employees, but it turns out it isn't.”
The caterers said that it is important that the container is clean and suitable. Dans Jansons, manager of the Upe restaurant, said:"We have more to use disposable cups, but people are getting involved in coming with their mugs, but they are our permanent customers. The hotel restaurant is different from other restaurants because people change, [and] typically eat on the spot. The most common disposable dishes are given to those who come earlier or later [to stay at the hotel]. We're looking for a variety of ecological solutions with wooden knives and forks."
However, such a solution is certainly not cheap, it is not beneficial for catering companies, and in the end, all these packages come to the landfill, said Diāna Stendzeniece, senior environmental protection specialist for the municipality of Liepaja.
"It is important to remember that a disposable container is and remains disposable. If the dish is consumed for 10 minutes, then it goes into a waste bin, it doesn't even matter what kind of material it is made from. There is a myth in society that if a dish is from biological materials, or is written that it is recyclable, it means that it is more environmentally friendly, but it does not exist. Dishes go into unsortable waste containers, unfortunately, they go to landfill sites and are not recycled," Stendzeniece said.