To-Go Containers: Impacts of Quarantine


Are plastic take out containers an issue?


The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the world. Many are on the frontlines, combating the virus, and many are patiently waiting at home for normality to return.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been attention given to some positive environmental impacts prompted by the virus. From decreased levels of carbon emissions, to wildlife returning to areas where they previously did not live, it seems that nature has been given a much needed break.

While these points are valid in their own right, there are other ways in which the virus has prompted the opposite impact.

More Waste

Due to stay-at-home orders and recommendations for self protection against the virus, waste systems have exponentially increased their daily loads. The most heavily collected items being added to the waste stream are medical equipment and supplies, and a larger influx of plastic.

While the increase in medical waste can speak for itself, the influx of plastic has largely come from the greater demand for take-out and to-go orders. Many food service businesses are able to remain open, but may only serve takeaway orders. According to Fox Business News, to-go orders spiked by 67% in March.

It’s clear that while many are following stay-at-home orders, they are unwilling to give up the convenience and luxury of deliveries and food from their favorite locations. With the spike of delivery and to-go orders comes an equal spike in packaging and to-go containers. A typical to-go order includes plastic silverware, beverage containers, sauce containers and packets, and plastic tupperware.

As we know, the war on plastic is far from over. The new Coronavirus has steadily been showing ways in which our societies and policies still fall short in waste management and environmental protection.

Plastic pollution is an ever-growing problem for wildlife, human health, and oceanic systems. While consumers patiently wait for governments to construct national systematic changes to target this issue, there are ways consumers can help lower their plastic impact.


  1. As often as possible, purchase to-go meals from businesses who offer biodegradable or compostable packaging.
  2. Purchase food at groceries stores replaced in less or no plastic.
  3. Store your food in plastic alternatives.
  4. Contact your favorite local businesses to ask if they can prepare your to-go orders in plastic free packaging.
  5. Quarantine or not, educate those you communicate with most. Remind them that a pandemic is still a great time to work on sustainability goals.



Thanks for reading! 


Settembre, Jeanette. “Coronavirus Lockdown Drives Food Delivery, Takeout Orders.” Fox Business, Fox Business, 7 May 2020,