Dishware – Biobased Availability

Question: Where can we find biobased dishware that meet the criteria?

Response: The following are only examples of some of the vendors and brands available. You need to verify with each vendor that the particular products you seek have the specified amount of biobased material.

Dishware - Biobased Cost

Question: Is there biobased dishware available at a price comparable to non-biobased dishware?

Response: Not at this time but some factors to consider are

  • Whether you can reduce costs by using durable dishware for onsite service and only purchase biobased dishware for offsite service
  • Whether your site can compost the biobased dishware and, thereby, reduce disposal costs. To compost, however, the dishware must go to a composting facility. Even compostable dishware will not compost in a landfill.
Dishware - Disposables vs. Durables

Question: For service in the cafeteria (as opposed to take out service), is disposable dishware more cost effective than durable dishware?

Response: No. In the late 1990s, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory did a Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessment on just that question. The finding was that including the purchase of the dishware, a dishwasher, and staff time, using durable dishware for onsite service paid for itself in less than a year's time.

Dishware – Biodegradable

Question: Is there a requirement for DOE sites to purchase biodegradable dishware?

Response: No, but, if your site has a compost pile or service, it could reduce disposal costs by breaking down the dishware into compost. Sending biodegradable dishware to the landfill, though, would neither reduce cost nor biodegrade. Biodegradability has as much to do with the location (landfill or compost pile) as the type of material the product is made of. Biobased products tend to be more biodegradable than petroleum based products. However, if the biobased product goes to the landfill it has very little chance of biodegrading no matter what its percent of biobased material or its biodegradability rating is.

Composting on site can include the traditional grounds and cafeteria debris or it can be a composter specifically designed for cafeterias. Green Mountain Technologies (http://www.compostingtechnology.com/) is one manufacturer of cafeteria composters.

If composting on site is not a possibility, you might consider using/helping establish a regional composting facility.

For DOE Sustainable Acquisition questions, contact Shab Fardanesh (202-586-7011).

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