Someone I know posted a photo of a restaurant receipt and asked about takeout fees. In this day of plastic bans, we may all be paying them.
Ever seen takeout fees on the receipt when you pick up your food? The post I saw on Facebook shows someone in my friend list was charged 50¢ and the receipt listed “takeout fee.”
He’d never seen that before. Most of the people who left comments said they’d never seen such a fee, either.
But I have a sneaking suspicion we may be seeing them soon?
A while back, a restauranteur frustrated with customers who called in to order takeout and then arrive and decide to eat in posted a question on Reddit:
I’m considering adding a small fee for takeout orders because I spend extra money on all the boxes and bags for people to just sit down, in store, eat everything out of styrofoam boxes then throw it all away. … Do you charge for to-go orders? Or should I just keep eating the cost?
Most all of the responses I saw gave this advice: Eat the cost. One even said, “I’d rather keep the customer happy.”
Plastic bans may make takeout fees more common.
Many municipalities are actively working to pass bans on single-use plastics, the kind of polystyrene containers often associated with takeout meals. The argument for such bans centers on the environment and the damage being done because of plastics and foam materials that take almost forever to break down.
The obvious question that many aren’t asking when it comes to such bans is the impact on restaurants who have to replace all of that polystyrene with alternate materials like bioplastics, which are meant to degrade and be compostable.
I’m no expert on the cost of such things, but a quick Google search for restaurant containers found a sampling of prices for both kinds of containers.
On average, the polystyrene containers, those made of that white Styrofoam-like material, average about 12¢-14¢ each.
But those compostable plastic containers, by comparison, cost about 44¢-49¢, nearly four times the cost.
Sure, we’re talking about a difference of about 32¢ per container. But multiply that by the number of takeout meals popular restaurants prepare and you can see how those costs will add up quickly.
And like everything else, sooner or later, higher costs get passed down to the customer.
Yes, protecting the environment is something we must do. But we can’t expect the businesses to cover that cost by themselves, can we?
An easy way to alleviate the added costs, of course, is the takeout fees some restaurants are already charging.
Restaurants could just raise their prices across the board, but at least the additional fee given to takeout orders only seems at least a bit more fair.
But once the fee becomes more universally accepted, diners won’t have any way of knowing whether they’re being billed 50¢ for a 44¢ container or $1 for a 27¢ container.