In French Restaurants Doggy Bags Are Controversial -- But They're a Success in Scotland
While we've been boxing or bagging up our restaurant leftovers since the 1940s, the "pack it up and eat it later" approach to dining out hasn't been widely adopted in Europe. Now, with growing awareness of the problem of food waste, other nations are embracing the doggy bag. Well actually in Scotland they're embracing the doggy box, and these doggy boxes are really cool.
The Good to Go doggy box was introduced to restaurants in Scotland by government-funded organization Zero Waste Scotland as a way to curb food waste while curbing the stigma that often comes with asking for a takeaway box. As part of the pilot launch of the doggy bags, restaurants were told to offer customers Good to Go boxes when they hadn't finished their food, instead of waiting for them to ask to have their food wrapped up. "Research carried out prior to the pilot showed that two fifths of people claim the main reason they hadn't previously taken food home from a restaurant visit was that they were too embarrassed to ask," a spokesperson told The Independent.
Made of sustainably-sourced cardboard with a starch lining, the Good to Go containers are completely leak-proof and can safely hold various kinds of food. Each box is sealed with a sticker with guidelines from the Food Standard Agency Scotland, such as that the food should only be reheated once or that it should be chilled within two hours, and to remind diners box to give diners how long the food is good for -- two days after it's taken home.
During the pilot run, restaurants reported seeing a 40 percent drop in food waste. That's likely due to a number of factors, the availability of the Good to Go boxes, greater awareness of food waste, and smaller portion offerings. Some restaurant even reported increased sales as diners felt more comfortable ordering more food, safe in the knowledge they could take any leftovers home. Now, Scotland will focus on expanding the Good to Go initiative to bring the doggy bags into more restaurants across the country and realize its goal of reducing food waste by 33 percent by 2025.
Contrast that with France, where since the start of 2016, restaurants have been legally required to provide doggy bags when diners request them. The problem? Diners are afraid to ask, fearful of incurring the wrath of chefs and restauranteurs. The French hotel and restaurant workers union (UMIH) is trying to make "le doggy bag" more acceptable by calling it "le gourmet bag." Maybe they should also try the stickers?