Reusable vs. Disposable:

What happened to washing dishes and silverware? Many schools found it less costly to purchase disposable products than to operate dishwashers and have staff clean reusable products. This business model is being re-evaluated and some schools are switching back to durable service ware and dishwashing machines. The continued purchases of disposable service ware plus the cost for waste disposal are not always less expensive than using reusable ware.

The GREEN TEAM developed a Case Study of New Bedford Public Schools’ Reusable Serviceware Initiative. Click the image below to read about how New Bedford School District transitioned to dishwashers and reusable trays in their cafeterias.


The GREEN TEAM developed a tip sheet on Reusable, Compostable, and Disposable Cafeteria Tray Options to provide information for schools interested in single-use disposable tray alternatives. Included are benefits and considerations for three different lunch tray options, case studies on schools that have made the switch to reusables, as well as best practices for commercial dishwashers.

In addition to the resources and examples in the tip sheet, here are some related reports and articles discussing this topic: