In the wake of COVID-19, many, if not most, restaurants have gone back to single-use products to provide customers with clean, first-use packaging and utensils in the increasingly germ-conscious environment, according to research from the Cleveland, Ohio-based Freedonia Group.
Even the most strictly regulated markets around the use of single-use products, including California and the United Kingdom, have suspended regulations around such products, according to a press release on the data.
As a result, Freedonia Group anticipates the pandemic’s existence in everyday food service will simultaneous boost the world’s single-use food service product market — estimated at $58 billion last year.
In recent years, an increasing number of jurisdictions globally enacted regulations and bans on single-use food service products, particularly plastic stirrers, straws, and bags, which make up a massive share of the earth’s plastics pollution problem. Freedonia Group estimates that plastic is expected to lose share of the global foodservice single-use product market to paper and other more eco-friendly materials through 2024.
Despite the ongoing shift away from plastic, the pandemic has altered perceptions of plastic single-use products, which are considered more hygienic than reusable items. As restaurants reopen, many are opting to use single-use cups, cutlery, and plates instead of reusable service ware for dine-in guests.
The company also said global demand for food service disposables will be bolstered by surging delivery and takeaway orders, which entail intensive use of a range of single-use items. This trend is highly likely to continue beyond the pandemic, as online food delivery was already a fast-growing trend and many consumers will continue to practice social distancing even after lock down orders are lifted.