Blog Post

Mei Mei Dumplings, located in South Boston, is setting a great example for sustainable business practices. Since opening their doors in 2012, Mei Mei has been dedicated to reducing waste and minimizing their environmental impact.

Mei Mei has always been passionate about diverting food scraps, and through a partnership with CERO they’ve implemented a comprehensive food scrap separation program. While they do use compostable materials in their front-of-house operations, Mei Mei focuses on training their back-of-house staff to prevent contamination, ensuring that their source separated kitchen food scraps are a high-quality stream. With a conveniently placed food scraps bin in the kitchen at their new location and with thorough staff training, they’ve made it easy for their staff to do the right thing. 

Mei Mei has also teamed up with Too Good To Go, a wasted food prevention app, to prevent wasted surplus food. Through this partnership, they sell dumplings that may have a shorter shelf life or may not meet aesthetic standards at discounted prices. By utilizing the app, Mei Mei has been able to provide 793 meals, saving these from disposal or composting, and avoid 2.14 tons of CO2 emissions in the past 12 months alone. 

Single-use chopsticks can be a large source of waste generated by restaurants. At Mei Mei, these chopsticks are given a new life thanks to a partnership with ChopValue. ChopValue collects disposable chopsticks from food service businesses and upcycles them into furniture, so not only is Mei Mei diverting waste from landfills, but they’re also helping to create stylish shelving units.

Because of their eco-conscious and passionate staff, along with reducing food waste, recycling is second nature at Mei Mei. From cardboard to bottles and cans, they’re committed to reducing their waste wherever possible. And it’s not just the employees; sustainability is embedded in the company’s values, making it a priority for everyone.

Mei Mei is on a mission to reduce plastic use. By working with the Product Stewardship Institute, they’ve identified the use of compostables for a café dine-in experience that is completely free of single-use plastic. While unable to switch the packaging for their dumplings sold in retail to plastic-free, they were able to use a mix of plastic pouches made by EPAC, a local Boston based company, and craft paper bags for specials. 

In addition to waste reduction, energy efficiency is also top of mind at Mei Mei, as they have transitioned to an all-electric kitchen. Recognizing the environmental and health benefits, they’ve made the switch to City of Boston Community Choice Electricity, saving money on their electric bill in the process. Mei Mei’s electricity bill for their 5500 square foot space is less on average per month than their previous 1900 square foot restaurant space. This decision aligns with their commitment to sustainability and reduces their reliance on fossil fuels. 

Mei Mei also understands the importance of sourcing ingredients locally. With 70-80% of their produce coming from within the region, and 90% of their meat sourced locally in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, they’re supporting the local economy and reducing their carbon footprint. 

The impact of Mei Mei’s sustainable initiatives is clear in the numbers:

  • Too Good To Go: In the past 12 months, Mei Mei has saved 793 meals and avoided 2.14 tons of CO2 emissions.
  • CERO Pickups: In 2023, CERO picked up 49 x 75-gallon bins of compost from Mei Mei. 

Mei Mei means little sister in Mandarin, but Mei Mei Dumplings is acting more like an older sibling for Massachusetts businesses with their sustainability leadership. Through innovation and commitment to reducing waste, they are proving that businesses can be successful not despite their sustainability practices, but because of them. 

If your business or institution is interested in implementing similar wasted food diversion programs, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) is here to support you. We can create educational signage for your waste and recycling bins, offer in-person site visits and comprehensive, customized waste reduction recommendations, and more. Call our hotline at 888-254-5525 or email us at to get started.