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Takeout and to-go meals are more popular than ever, but their convenience comes at a cost. Waste from disposable and single-use food service items, such as containers, utensils, and condiment packages, continues to grow and most frequently ends up at landfills, incinerators, or waterways. Furthermore, food-serving businesses and organizations have been hit hard by rising prices and supply chain delays, disproportionately impacting small businesses that do not have the purchasing power of restaurant groups and corporate chains to keep up with demand.
DOEE’s Ditch the Disposables program, part of , aims to reduce the use of disposable foodware throughout the District by providing grants to support transitions to reusable foodware at restaurants and food-serving entities. This can include establishing dishwashing capacity and implementing the use of reusable containers, either in-house or through a third-party entity.
In 2022, DOEE awarded 15 grants totaling $211,598. Of this, $25,721 was supported by the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE). They are:
American University for 5,000 reusable to-go containers for student use at the dining hall, eliminating 2,571 lbs of waste per semester. $24,750
Army Distaff Foundation for reusable containers to be used by 170 residents at an independent living care facility, which will prevent 8,760 lbs/year of waste. $11,855
B.Lin Catering for a transition to reusable catering supplies, dishware, and an energy efficient dishwasher that will result in 1,000 lb/year in waste reduction. $9,000
Big Bear Cafe for the purchase of reusable foodware and a dishwasher, with the goal of reducing waste by 60%. $25,000
Culture Coffee Too for a reusable take-out program and associated marketing campaign. $5,875
Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services for the creation of a Mobile Food Service Station to educate 650 students, increase food choice, and reduce school food waste. $16,721 (OSSE funded)
FishScale for an 80% conversion of disposable to reusable takeout containers and design of an associated customer loyalty app. $11,250
Lee Montessori Public Charter School for a transition to family style reusable foodware for 400 students on both campuses and to support a compost program. $9,000 (OSSE funded)
Lutheran Church of the Reformation for a dishwasher for the congregation’s kitchen, which will support an elimination of 3,900 lbs/year of waste. $5,637
Market 7 for reusable drinkware and a dishwasher to support a food hall, reducing waste by 50% while educating the community. $25,000
NPB Group for reusable foodware, a dishwasher that will reduce water and energy by 50%, and a field trip for staff to a water treatment facility. $15,377
Teaism for the implementation of a to-go cup pilot program for regular customers. $5,142
Temple Micah for a dishwasher and 200 sets of reusable dinnerware for Temple events, with an elimination of 180 lbs/year of disposable items. $8,641
Valley Brook Tea for 100 mugs, 300 takeout travel mugs, and a dishwasher which will reduce disposables by 90%. $13,650
Washington DC Asian Food Corp. for a reusable take-out and delivery program and dishwasher, which will result in an 85% reduction in waste. $24,700