Outback Steakhouse joins Styrofoam ban

A first for the restaurant chain

Outback Steakhouse in Secaucus has signed on to the town’s Styrofoam ban, a first for the national restaurant chain. The local restaurant switched all products, with the exception of two items, to hard recyclable plastic.
The change comes after the town passed a resolution at the Oct. 11 council meeting banning the use of Styrofoam, or polystyrene, from schools, restaurants, and small businesses, because it is not biodegradable and can contaminate the soil and waterways.

A move toward sustainability

The measure is a step toward certifying the town with Sustainable Jersey, a program for municipalities that want to go “green.”
“It is a step in the right direction,” said Gonnelli at the council meeting. “We are going to ask anybody that does takeout to get rid of [their Styrofoam] stock and replenish it with something biodegradable.”
“We are big believers in being a leader in the community,” said Howard Rosen, proprietor for Outback Steakhouse in Secaucus. “We don’t want to be behind the curve; we want to be ahead of the curve.”

“We want to be ahead of the curve.” – Howard Rosen
He said that for the most part, everything was packaged in Styrofoam before the switch to plastic. The corporation is currently looking for alternatives for the Styrofoam package that holds the Bloomin’ Onion and kids’ drinks.
“We are waiting for the corporate office to approve a package for the Bloomin’ Onion,” he said. “They are trying to design a container that…won’t affect the quality of the product.”
He said the new alternative for the children’s cup should be done shortly. Once the final two items are switched, the Secaucus location will be Styrofoam-free.
“That is big…Outback responded to us immediately,” said Gonnelli. “Hopefully it leads to something bigger so it is just not here.”

Serving the community

Rosen has developed a reputation for sponsoring community events and received the Serving the Community Award at the Oct. 25 council meeting for his efforts throughout the year.
“Outback has been a fantastic partner for us,” said Guy Pascarello during the meeting. He is president of the Little League. “Before the start of this season they donated a sign. No other sponsor even gave us the time of day on it.”
“I just want to be a supporter of anything of relevance in the community whether it is about Styrofoam [or] a toy and coat drive – anything that is important,” said Rosen.
He said he was honored and thrilled to receive the Serving the Community Award.
“I came up here 17 months ago because I’m a big believer in community and the company,” said Rosen, who lives in Philadelphia. “Most days I’m traveling three hours a day because I love what I do and I love this community.”

A national trend in the making

Outback Steakhouse in Secaucus is the first corporate-owned restaurant in the national chain to eliminate Styrofoam. OSI Restaurant Partners owns and operates the chain, which has more than 670 domestic restaurants and over 1,200 locations globally.
“The corporation is totally behind everything,” said Rosen.

Bonefish, Maschio’s also on board

Bonefish Grill, also owned by OSI, has eliminated Styrofoam, and the food service provider Maschio’s has recently agreed to eliminate Styrofoam. Maschio’s provides school lunches to the Secaucus school district and serves between 5,000 and 6,000 meals a week.
Amanda Neishewat, chairperson of the environmental committee, is working with them to find an affordable alternative and to also come up with options for restaurants throughout the town.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at afernandez@hudsonreporter.com.

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