Hot on the heels of the decision to
eliminate non-degradable plastic bags, Foster’s supermarkets have now
introduced degradable food take-away containers in all of their stores.
Foster’s Director Woody Foster said
once the decision to eliminate non-degradable plastic bags was made, the
company thought it could go even further with its efforts to go green.
Tanya Foster, deli and bakery
senior manager said the stores had been going through 16,000 Styrofoam
containers a week. The new containers were introduced on Monday, 10 August, and
within about a day, all the stores had completed the transition to the new
“We were researching this for a
while, working with the vendor in the United States,” said Ms Foster. “We
actually wanted to have them in the stores sooner, but we had to wait on the
order on their end due to its size.”
The containers are made of natural
fibres and begin to degrade in about 90 days, resulting in a much-reduced
impact when they enter the George Town landfill. Instead of lasting a lifetime,
the containers slowly turn into compost.
“We need to cut back on our waste
here in Cayman and this is one way we can do it,” she said.
But since the containers are a
change from the previous product, Ms Foster says they may take some getting
“They are heat resistant and grease
resistant, but because they are made from fibre you can feel the heat and they
are not quite as rigid as the Styrofoam ones,” she said.
“Because they breathe a bit more
than the old containers, people might think they won’t last until they get
home, but they do. We’ve done quite a bit of testing.”
Mr. Foster says the testing
included filling a container with oxtail, curry goat and water.
“We let it sit for thirteen-and-a-half
hours, then put it in the microwave and it was fine,” he said.
“If we do find that they have
bigger issues over time, we will bring in another brand. But we are definitely
not going back to Styrofoam.”
Some customers were more than a
little irritated at the change. Last week, said Ms Foster, one customer dropped
her container on the floor, stomped on it and left the store in apparent
But at Foster’s airport location on
Monday morning, customers picking up hot breakfast seemed to be generally
supportive of the new containers.
“I really don’t see a big
difference,” said Dominic Foster (no relation to Foster’s store owners). “Plus
I think it’s good that they are now compostable.”
Gary Bradshaw had no complaints.
“I think they are fine and I think
the change is good absolutely since it makes a difference for the environment,”
Mary Walters hadn’t really paid
much attention to the change but said she thought it was a good development in
terms of the environmental impact.
Fitzgerald Smith, though supportive
of their green qualities, mentioned that the containers seem to be a bit
heavier than the ones they replaced. At the moment, cashiers don’t take off the
weight of the container from the final price.
“Even if it adds just a little to
the price, it does make a difference all the same,” said Mr. Smith.
The container adds roughly 20 cents
to the overall price.
Mr. Foster said the company
recognises there are quite a few products in their stores that can be changed
for greener alternatives and will be making changes over time.
“What people don’t realise is that
going green is not cheap,” he said.
“We have heard people say that they
think it is a way for us to be cheaper, but these containers actually cost over
three times as much,” said Mr. Foster. “But this is what we will be carrying
from now on.”