Cook Out: Ditch the styrofoam packaging!
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Founded in Greensboro North Carolina in 1989, Cook Out is a staple of fast food in the Southeast. Going to Cook Out for a combo tray and milkshake after a night out is a memory many college students and graduates share.
But if you've been to or live near a Cook Out, there's also another thing its locations share: pollution. Cook Out uses styrofoam (polystyrene) for much of its food packaging, despite the negative environmental impact of this material:
"When it comes to being bad for the environment, polystyrene foam is a repeat offender. Polystyrene foam used to be regularly manufactured using ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons ... Styrene, the basic building block of polystyrene, is classified as a possible carcinogen by EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The manufacture of polystyrene requires large amounts of petroleum and chemicals. When polystyrene foam goes to a landfill, it stays there: it can take more than a million years for a polystyrene product to decompose." (source: https://blog.epa.gov/blog/tag/styrofoam-ban/)
For example, if you order a tray that includes 2 hotdogs, slaw, fries, and a drink other than water, you'll get a large square styrofoam container for one hotdog and your fries, a separate styrofoam container for your other hotdog, a styrofoam container (with recyclable plastic lid) for your slaw, and a styrofoam cup (with recyclable plastic lid) for your shake or huge tea. That's a LOT of packaging for one meal...now imagine how much styrofoam you'll end up with for a 4-person order!
All of this waste ends up at best in trash cans, then the landfill...and at worst, strewn across the parking lots to collect in trees, fences, etc. without ever breaking down.
There are many alternatives to styrofoam that may be cost-effective in the bulk quantities a restaurant needs, including both recyclable and biodegradable materials such as sugarcane bagasse (for biodegradable cups, lids, and takeout containers) or sturdy paper options.
I'm calling on Cook Out to get with the times and do something about the pollution caused by their packaging. Sign this petition if you'd like Cook Out to choose more eco-friendly packaging options for your local restaurant and its many other locations.
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