Alternatives to Single Use Plastic

Students take on the role of a product designer for a major fast food company that’s redesigning its packaging to be free of single-use plastic.

Task Force: Alternatives to Single Use Plastic 


You’re the head of product development at a major fast food chain (of your choice). One of the states where you operate just made a law that all packaging must be free of single-use plastic in the next three years. Now, you must decide how you will redesign your packaging. 

Why Are We Doing This?

Single-use plastic packaging contributes to tons of waste every year. It can be difficult for consumers to avoid single-use plastic even if they want to. So, governments and companies must take responsibility for phasing out its use. Some alternatives include reusable packaging or using non-plastic materials that are compostable or biodegradable, but implementing changes can be difficult and expensive. 


  1. Research some more information about how fast food companies contribute to the problem of single use plastic. Also, compile a list of the types of packaging at the restaurant you chose. Then, research alternatives to single use plastic. Also, see if you can find examples of companies who have implemented these changes. 
  2. Now, craft your plan. 
    1. What alternatives will you choose? 
    2. Why did you choose them?
      1. What are the main positives and negatives of the alternatives you chose?  
    3. Will this change how customers interact with your product? (e.g. reusable packaging that they have to bring back). 
  3. What type of waste will your new packaging create? How will you manage it? (e.g. compost bins) 
  4. Think through the possible objections to your plan and how you would respond to them.  
  5. Share with the group and see if you can convince them that your plan will help reduce waste from single use plastic. 

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • You do not have to come up with an exhaustive plan. It’s better to come up with a few ideas that you feel confident with and spend time thinking through possible objections to them. 
  • You don’t have to worry about answering all possible objections, but you should have some defense of why you think your idea would work. 
  • Your suggestions should be things that states could realistically implement.