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The City of Portland, Oregon

Sustainability at Work

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Reusable Dishware (Why switch?)

You Asked, We Answer: Why is reusable dishware the most sustainable option?

Examples of durable dishware 
Ceramic, glass, metal and heavy duty plastic can all be washed and reused over and over again.

It’s the best environmental option

Reusable dishware will use far less energy and resources over its lifetime than its disposable counterparts. Even with the energy and water needed to wash items, the overall environmental impact is substantially less than single-use, throw-away items.

In a typical restaurant setting, reusable dishware will reused 2,500 times, and even the most energy intensive durable (ceramic) surpasses its “break-event point” with disposables after 120 uses [3].

It’s cheaper in the long run

Over time, many businesses save money by switching to reusables. See how one restaurant saved over three-thousand dollars.

It’s healthier

Many disposable products have human health impacts during production. The chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in growing some plant-based products can create water and air pollution [2]. Refining fossil fuels used in plastic products can create air pollution [2]. Additionally, some plastic products leach chemicals that can be harmful to people [2].

It may be easier than you think

Are your waste containers filled with cups and containers? If they are, your customers (or office mates) are consuming food onsite, and could be using “real” dishware instead.


Ready to start using more reusable items in your workplace, but not sure where to start? Contact us!


  1. "Sustainable, Disposable Foodservice Products." Sustainable Foodservice: Disposable Products. Sustainable Foodservice, n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.
  2. Yepsen, Rhodes. "Compostable Products." Bio-Cycle (June 2008): 41-43. Print.
  3. Denison, Richard A. Environmental Comparison of Reusable Ceramic Mugs vs. Disposable Cups Made from Polystyrene or Virgin Bleached Paperboard. Rep. Boston: Alliance for Environmental Innovation, 1998. Print.


Research conducted in 2014.