The 2022-2023 awards have been made! Scroll down to learn about the businesses and organizations that received a Ditch the Disposables grant this year.
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Supporting Transitions From Single-Use to Reusable Foodware
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 Zero Waste DC, 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.
For more information about Ditch the Disposables, contact [email protected].
For the 2022-2023 grant cycle, nine projects totaling $193,843 were awarded:
B.Lin Catering - $11,000 B.Lin Catering will continue efforts in replacing disposable foodware – used in serving, displays, and buffets – with reusable items made from porcelain and metal for the company’s recurring and special event clients. They anticipate a 2,000-pound reduction in the usage of aluminum pans, plastic tongs, and paper and plastic plates, allowing them to pass the cost-savings to local and non-profit partners they serve.
Büna Coffeehouse - $23,169 Büna Coffeehouse, a local family-run business in Petworth, will implement reusable foodware for on-site dining and start a reusable to-go coffee cup program. The owners have been active in the Petworth neighborhood for more than 20 years and plan to use their community connections to promote the effort and incentivize the use of reusables.
FishScale - $20,000 FishScale – a Black-owned, family-owned, and veteran-owned business – will make a 100% conversion from disposable to reusable foodware. This includes catering supplies and reusable takeout containers through a new loyalty program that incentives reusable containers as the default option. FishScale will be hosting local hospitality and culinary students who will assist with project implementation.
Fresh Food Factory - $25,000
Fresh Food Factory, a social enterprise that engages low-to-moderate income residents in various aspects of the food industry, will purchase dishwashers, reusable foodware, and receptables and bins for reusable dish drop-off at a new location in Ward 7. The new site will include an eatery with a commercial incubator kitchen for local food businesses and residents to prepare and sell fresh food to the surrounding communities.
Metropolitan AME Church - $24,945 Metropolitan AME Church, a historic downtown church with membership in the thousands, will transition its kitchen operations back to reusable foodware, the original way they began serving food. Their project includes obtaining dishwashing equipment and reusable foodware for 175 people, the maximum capacity for the room where food is served. The church has provided meals to homeless and low-income populations for decades.
Open City at the National Cathedral - $25,000 Open City at the National Cathedral will fully transition its on-site dining from disposable to reusable foodware. The project is estimated to eliminate waste from almost 600 paper beverage cups and more than 300 paper wraps for bagels and sandwiches on a weekly basis. Most of the average 1,776 weekly customers dine on site and the café hopes the porcelain plates and cups will encourage grab-and-go tourists to slow down and stay on site as well.
RASA - $14,729 RASA, a local chain of fine fast casual Indian restaurants, will purchase reusable silverware, bowls, and cups for on-site dining at its District locations. This could potentially reduce waste from disposable foodware by around 25 percent, the average percentage of guests who dine in. The foodware transition will be coupled with a marketing campaign to encourage guests to eat on-site as a way connect with others over food and make conscious choices about the sustainability of their meals.
Sudhouse DC - $25,000 Sudhouse DC, a family-owned establishment in the U Street Corridor, will undergo a foodware transition for its on-site operations. This includes obtaining a commercial dishwasher and reusable, unbreakable plates for their on-site business, which currently uses many disposable items to serve customers. This is part of their efforts to eliminate their use of plastic in all areas.
To Go Green - $25,000
To Go Green, a third-party reusable foodware startup, will create a network of reusable containers for restaurants and their customers. Their service will allow customers to check out reusable containers for takeout or leftovers and return them to drop-off bins at partnering restaurants for cleaning in a commercial dishwasher. To Go Green has commitments from four District-based food businesses to begin its pilot program.