How can I reuse or recycle restaurant menus?

Jessica left a message on the “suggest an item” page:

Hello, I work in a restaurant where we get new menus about every two weeks.

They are nice menus, but have worn edges, maybe, some wear and tear. But we throw these menus out by the hundreds every two weeks. It seems so wasteful to me.

We change them out to meet the company standards of how they should be presented. So what could be some ideas of how we can reuse the menus cause I’m pretty sure they can’t be recycled. Thanks!!

I’m presuming since they “can’t be recycled” that they’re laminated menus or similar – not just paper or card because they would be easier to recycle.

We’ve covered old laminated posters before so if they are laminated, there might be some overlap in potential reuses.

Any menu-specific suggestions though? Given the amount they’re going through, bulk reuses would be best.

From a reduction point of view, I wonder if it’s worth taking it up with the company further upstream – they’re insisting on the menus being changed without considering the green impact. Perhaps it should be up to them to change the menu design to make it longer lasting – or relax their standards. Has anyone had any experience of getting a company to change their policy for the greener – or any advice about what types of menus work best?

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12 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle restaurant menus?”

  1. louisa says:

    Melinda & Alison left valuable comments on the Suggest an Item page – I’ll copy them over here so they don’t need to re-type!

  2. Melinda says:

    A school might want them for a reality-based math class. It can be wonderful to have a class set of these!

  3. Are the menu’s laminated? Need to know a bit more about the construction.

  4. Nina says:

    This is a really great question! I think it’s a type of problem a lot of restaurants deal with. Menus go through a lot of wear and tear, especially restaurants that are kid-focused. I think trying thicker menu covers that can transfer from menu to menu instead of a laminate that gets tossed out every two weeks. If you invested in nice menu covers, you could just swap out the physical menu inside, which allows for your bi-weekly updates and adjustments to the menu.

  5. Johan says:

    It might be a nice idea to use the old menu’s as a wallpaper,
    wall-lamination on one or more of the walls in the restaurant .
    (depending on the style of the restaurant of course!)

    Another idea that came to my mind was to have them converted into chairs by an artist, this would then additionally become interesting not only from the ecological point of view, but also from a branding standpoint.


  6. lightsinthesky says:

    If you play tabletop roll-playing games, you can turn them into Game Master screens!

  7. Melinda says:

    To captialize on the menu’s thickness and lamination, they could be cut up to use as a template for patchwork quilting. used as a work surface or kept in the kitchen to use as a funnel or spout when bent to the right shape.

    A child care center might appreciate a lot of them for use as work surfaces.

  8. They should be fairly easy to wipe so any situation that does art and crafts with kids would definitely appreciate them.

  9. Uluska says:

    They can be turned into attractive bags or boxes for the customers to take food home.

  10. Olga says:

    Cut out shapes out of them to make Holiday garlands and decorate restaurant.

  11. Uluska says:

    Use some of them at the office as folders, to cover shelves at the storage room, bottoms of the storing bins, trash cans, etc.

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