Ask LH: Best Disposable Containers For Lunch Storage?

Hey Lifehacker, I work in the north-west on a fly-in, fly-out basis. For lunch, we pack plastic containers (the same kind you find in Chinese restaurants) from crib every morning. Some days I'll use up to three. I'm at a relatively small camp that caters for about 200 people at any given time. That means, theoretically, our camp could be using 600 containers a day, 4200 a week, more than 120,000 a month, and over 1.5 million a year. That's just for one camp. This seems like a waste. Assuming that re-usable lunch boxes are not an option, is there a more environmentally-friendly alternative to these containers that I could suggest to the camp managers? Thanks, Remote Lunches

Picture by Stephen Depolo

Dear Remote Lunches,

You've already identified and dismissed the option that I would otherwise initially have suggested: reusable containers that could get washed and sent back out over and over again. That said, I can imagine a couple of reasons why these might not work: a lack of water for washing them in remote areas, a high likelihood no-one will bother bringing them back.

The obvious area to pursue, then, is paper and cardboard. For something in a sandwich-like format, paper bags are hard to beat. The bigger challenge is if you've got foodstuffs that are designed to be eaten with a fork or a spoon. I have occasionally encountered cardboard containers that are substantial enough for (say) a stir-fry or fish and chips, but for other foodstuffs it gets trickier, and I've rarely done anything resembling work anywhere more remote than Townsville.

So I'll open this out to the readers. Anyone else got suggestions for more environmentally friendly but still disposable containers for lunches? Share them in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    These any good?

    Or these...

    Google is amazing.

    At the last mine I worked at they issued reusable lunch boxes to everyone and still allowed people to use paper bags for sandwiches. Individuals were expected to wash and clean the lunch box using the wash room provided. It seemed to work, there were complaints but really it was only lazy people who complained.

    you could always use cardboard boxes (like the type that contains your takeaway chips) and line with clingfllm? These would be quite labour intensive though....

    polystyrene foam contains used to work well...

    I've just started working in a FIFO town and all workers from the surrounding mines are supplied with reusable plastic containers. There is a wash room next to the mess and any lost/damaged containers can be re-issued with the correct form.
    This works well and I can see absolutely no need for disposable containers.
    Is there a valid reason for using disposable or are the workers perceived as too lazy to wash their own?

    Give people nice plastic containers (that can withstand a good knocking) then have a 1 for 1 swap in the mess. Also have disposable ones available on request, for those who can't return theirs for various reasons.

    at the melbourne zoo, near the elephants, the "village" cafe uses a recyclable cardboard that is pretty sturdy.

    Hi guys,

    If you have any questions about ThinkEco's range of biodegradable plates, cutlery & clam shells, I'm more than happy to help.

    I don't check this site often so easier to email me at [email protected]

    kind regards,
    Andrew Coaker (Director, ThinkEco)

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