Why stores hesitate with BYO packaging

I bought this tortellini plastic-free at @pastaclassica on Smith St. It’s incredibly delicious! But asking for them to put it in my own container turned into an uncomfortable refusal based on OHS reasons (Occupational Health & Safety).

Their refusal was weirdly demeaning and somewhat passive-aggressive. They loudly exclaimed: “We don’t know where your container has been!” That was the real kicker. Other customers looked at me, and at my container; and then me again. I imagined them assessing how dirty I was. After that, all the staff ignored me and walked away.

Despite this, they, fortunately, serve their tortellini in paper boxes. I got their attention again and asked to buy in a paper container. I can happily settle for no plastic, but wow, is paper really a cleaner option than my metal container!? And why you gotta be so rude about it?

I find that the main reasons for stores to hesitate with byo packaging are:

1. OHS – If they’ve been burned before, they’re not going to budge. Leave it be. They have a business to protect.
2. Efficiency – If the store is busy, a to change their workflow tends to add stress and delays. Be nice. Maybe come back later.
3. Lack of understanding – Most people understand if I say “I’m trying to go plastic free” but they won’t understand if I say “I’m zero waste”. Be nice. Be patient. Have courage. We’re all learning together.
4. Production lines – A large-scale company (like supermarket chains) has loads of moving parts. They can’t change overnight. Inquire politely via social media and customer service streams. Suggest change. Follow up. Be patient.

I have no doubt that @pastaclassica has outstanding customer service, particularly to their loyal regulars. I just asked a question that was clearly a sore spot. Apparently, they used to sell in byo containers but the health inspector was displeased. At least I know where to get some of the most delicious handmade, plastic-free pasta. I might need some time to regain my confidence though.