Out with paper and plastic: The case for creating a more sustainable workplace dining experience

With increased corporate focus on sustainability, foodservice operations around the world are looking for ways to reduce waste. Some have invested more in biodegradable disposables while others have gone so far as to ban single-use plastic straws entirely.

But there’s another option. Switching to reusable foodservice products, like washable china and flatware, could help save our planet – and save you money in the long run.

Why are single-use, disposable foodservice products a serious environmental problem?

They cause a ton of waste. A Clean Water Fund study in the San Francisco area found that “food and beverage packaging comprises the most significant type of trash on Bay Area streets” at 67% of all trash collected.

More than 90% of plastic isn’t recycled, which means a huge number of disposable cups, utensils and plates are clogging our landfills, waterways and oceans. Those plastic and Styrofoam products emit gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and odorous compounds that pose significant threats to public health and the environment.

Why switch to reusables?

It’s good for the environment and can save you money.

Switching to reusable foodservice products is one extremely meaningful way companies can work to build a healthier planet. Corporate commitment to sustainability has reach now and into the future. Your team realizes that changes have to be made now in order to protect the future of our planet.

Your dishes and flatware are almost guaranteed not to wind up in a landfill. Even the most conscientious diners can make a mistake in disposal of items that can send an entire batch of compostable products to a landfill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Management Hierarchy, preventing waste from happening altogether is environmentally preferable to recycling and composting.

Also, when looking at the cost of reusable products with one of our largest clients, we determined that they would actually save money within the first year after switching from consumables. The initial cost of the dinnerware, labor and material costs, associated with cleaning reusable products was less than continuing their current program.

By shifting from single-use consumables to reusable tableware and utensils, we can limit the amount of plastic going to landfills, reduce the number of trees cut down, and lower the amount of oil used to produce and transport products that are only used once before being tossed away.

Plus, dining on dishes and with glassware feels more like home, making consumers feel happier and more welcome in your cafe.

Not quite ready for a complete change?

There are ways to improve the sustainability in your cafe without a complete change to reusable china. Other solutions to consider include:

  • Composting. This is the best way to reduce the impact of disposables. For best results, make sure to use a certified composting facility that accepts disposables.
  • Switching to bio-based material will help you move away from nonrenewable resources like petroleum-based plastics.
  • Using products made from sustainable forest resources.

The great news!

Sustainability is part of our DNA at Compass Group. In fact, we’ve made the switch to compostable products in our own corporate cafe – it’s just part of what we do every day to reduce waste. We have a professional team of waste sustainability experts ready to help your team do the same.

If you’d like to hear more about sustainability in the workplace, please get in touch with us.