This report was occasioned by reading about a new, complicated “green” way to avoid wasteful plastic foam or other one-way plastic or cardboard boxes used for boxing up uneaten food at restaurants. It also applies to purposeful take-out containers at fast food places.
For many years, I have solved this simple problem in a simple way. I have a few stacked plastic containers that live in the back of my car. When I need a take out package, I bring the plastic dishes into the store with me and use them. When I get home, I eat or transfer the food and wash out the plastic container. Then I replace it in my car. The containers, which can be reclosable packaging from any number of standard foods, cost nothing. Or, if you want more robust plastic ware, you can get rugged polyethylene containers for under five dollars per set at any supermarket. If you don’t destroy them somehow, they may last you the rest of your life.
This simple way apparently requires too much responsibility (yuk! you actually need to wash out your own container!) so the Faux Fake Zero Waste Greenwashing establishment has found a way to make the whole process more complicated and expensive. Hurrah for free enterprise!
According to the announcement by the official Oakland recyclers, GO BOX works this way:
After signing up for a GO Box subscription for just $29 a year (only $2.49 a month), members will receive a digital token via their email or smartphone. Subscribers present the token when they place an order at a participating restaurant, and their meal is served in a BPA-free, reusable plastic clamshell container. Once they’ve finished their meal, members return the empty GO Box container to one of the company’s drop-off sites and receive a token for their next meal. (see entire prospectus)
For anyone reading this in the next century, BPA-free is jargon for the latest, top of the line, nontoxic plastic. (Polyethylene is intrinsically free of bis-phenol-A (BPA) because that is not used in its manufacture.)
First you need to shell out $29 every year. Then you get a DIGITAL token which means you have to notice it, turn on your printer, print it and save it for the next time you need it. If you forget it, or your printer is down, you’re out of luck, just like if I forget to bring in my dish. Or maybe you carry the token in your smartphone but then how does the restaurant get credit for its box? I’m sure there’s some involved computer based way.
Now, instead of having to wash out a container at home, you have to get in your car and drive over to one of “the company’s drop-off sites” to deposit your physical (note: NOT Digital) container. If you’re lucky, that will be in the same county and less than a half-hour drive in traffic. Five bucks worth of gas if you manage not to run over a dog, argue with a tree and the transmission doesn’t drop out. If you’re that lucky, maybe the restaurant won’t have used up its supply of BPA free dishes when you need one. This is so damned green, why didn’t I think of it.
Then you get another token. Now you can see why this costs $29 a year. There is software, numerous drop-off sites in convenient, high-rent areas, operators, container washers and their automatic dishwashing machines, managers, staff to take your container, white vans with logos on them to bring the excess dishes from all the drop-off sites to all the participating restaurants, and PROFIT. Don’t forget profit.
What a waste of resources!
All to avoid washing your own container and putting it back in your car.
This is typical greenwashing. All sizzle and no steak.
For a deeper discussion of alternatives, check this out.
Do you see now why green washing is a phony propaganda campaign designed to slip your hard earned money out of your pocket while making you feel vaguely good about being fleeced?
The final insult in all these machinations – the official recyclers from Oakland swallow it hook line and sinker and actually publicize this wasteful nonsense for this wasteful company. Would it kill them to use the analytic side of their brains for once?
COMMENT from Oct. 2020 – A Google search on GOBOX suggests that all the Bay Area applications have vanished and the scheme is only still found in Portland OR. There is no real clarity in the reporting. An app is offered on Google Playstore but there is no indication that it can be used anywhere.