The Hidden Costs of Single-Use

by Re:Dish, September 2021

Single-use containers have been a mainstay of most food service operations and are one of the greatest contributors to the growing waste crisis. Often, however,  single-use containers are not targeted for phase out because companies underestimate their hidden costs and don’t realize that reusables are a better option. The truth is that reusables are always a better choice than single-use, no matter what material the disposable is made out of, and eliminating them from  food service operations makes a huge impact on the environment.  

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No matter the material, disposables are fundamentally not good for the environment.

Single-use containers have been a mainstay of most food service operations and are one of the greatest contributors to the growing waste crisis. Often, however,  single-use containers are not targeted for phase out because companies underestimate their hidden costs and don’t realize that reusables are a better option. The truth is that reusables are always a better choice than single-use, no matter what material the disposable is made out of, and eliminating them from  food service operations makes a huge impact on the environment.  

 

Disposables are costlier than you think. 

Maintaining single-use containers requires more ongoing maintenance, creates more waste that has associated costs, and fundamentally takes up more time that could be better spent on other tasks, compared to adopting a reusable program. A study by GreatForest Sustainability Solutions analyzed the operational differences between single-use and reuse, finding that between ordering, storing and collecting single-use containers, a reuse program like Re:Dish eliminates 28% of all operational steps.

These steps may seem negligible, but they add up. Consider the simple act of unboxing for a company that is using 1000 cups and containers today. Even if it only takes a minute to do that, an employee is spending almost 4 days per year just stocking those single-use containers!

 

Creating an in-house reusable program can be daunting.

Though reusables are operationally efficient when compared to single-use, recyclable, and compostable, the start-up to such a program can be intimidating. Implementing an in-house dishwashing function at scale requires significant space and investment in machinery, drying racks, and detergents, not to mention the significant space to properly clean and dry.

 

A reusable service makes it easy.

Solutions like Re:Dish offer a turnkey service that make it easy for companies to quickly get started with reusables. They pick up and deliver reusable food containers and cups, offer designated bins for easy returns, and take care of the washing at their owned industrial washing facilities.  Some, like Re:Dish, also offer staff training, communications support, and a dedicated client service contact. With Re:Dish’s proprietary dashboard, DishTrack, companies can monitor their inventory and impact in real-time, with metrics that feed directly into Scope 3 reporting.

 

The Bottom Line is that reusables are not only better for the environment and a meaningful way to help companies realize their sustainability goals, but they can also be a great deal. With over a half-a-trillion single-use food service products discarded each year in the US alone, now’s the time to adopt a reusable container and cup program in your company. To get in touch, please email MIchael, VP of Business Development at MCinquemani@redish.com. We’d love to chat!