Blog Post

Replacing single-use foodservice container options with reusables can reduce both disposal costs and long-term purchasing needs for restaurants and other food service businesses. According to Clean Water Action, packaging waste makes up approximately 30% of waste disposed of in the US, and these products “consume a tremendous amount of resources — including oil, trees, energy, and water — throughout their lifecycle, from manufacturing through disposal” (ReThink Disposable Reusable Food Serviceware Guide). Takeout packaging becomes litter which also pollutes streams, waterways, and the ocean.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) technical assistance can help you get started thinking about the switch from disposables to reusables among other waste reduction strategies. Our tips for reducing waste from restaurant takeout and delivery meals include successful strategies for reusables as well as considerations for recyclable and compostable materials.

In addition to RecyclingWorks, there are a few other valuable programs currently available to Massachusetts businesses interested in moving away from single use disposable materials:

  • Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) – Did you know that Reusables could save your business as much as $4,500 each year? If you are a Boston-area food service business looking to transition to reusables or otherwise reduce plastic waste. PSI’s EPA Region 1 Restaurant Reuse Campaign gives food service businesses free tools and guidance — and provides $850 to the first 10 businesses in the Greater Boston area that sign up. Apply today on the PSI website.
  • ReThink Disposable – Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund offer the ReThink Disposable program which includes technical assistance to help food business operators reduce waste and cut costs by minimizing disposable packaging items. Some businesses may also qualify for up to $300 in rebates toward the purchase of reusable food service ware. Download reusables case studies, testimonials, and sign up to receive more information on ReThink Disposable website.
  • Plastic Free Restaurants provides subsidies to food service establishments that currently gives single-use petroleum-based plastic to its customers (or students), is willing and ready to switch to reusables, and is not required by (local, county, state) law to discontinue using the single-use plastic. 
  • The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Reduce, Reuse, Repair Micro-Grant program provides up to $5,000 to for-profit and non-profit organizations, regional authorities, and eligible municipalities for short-term waste reduction projects. Past grant winners include Portico Brewing, which received funding to help pay for reusable silverware, plates, bowls, trays, and stainless-steel cups for its Somerville taproom and in-house kitchen. Grant applications are accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis. Visit the MassDEP webpage and review the Micro-Grant Guidelines document for more information.

RecyclingWorks can support your business in establishing impactful waste reduction and recycling initiatives. RecyclingWorks technical assistance is flexible and always tailored to meet your specific organization’s needs. We’re here to listen, answer questions and guide your sustainability efforts: (888) 254-5525 or