Upstream released Reuse Wins – a report showing how a new reuse economy is emerging to replace single-use products in food service.
The report’s key findings draw from life-cycle studies that compare the environmental impacts of disposables versus reusables, and project the potential cost savings to business and communities from transitioning to a reuse economy.
The problem: today’s “one-way throw-away” economy
- Nearly 1 trillion individual pieces of disposable food ware and packaging used by restaurants and food service businesses – 21% for on-site dining, 79% for take-out and delivery.
- $24 billion spent by restaurants and food-service businesses on disposables each year.
- $6 billion spent by businesses and city governments on waste management costs due to disposable food packaging.
- Roughly 20 billion pieces of litter from disposable food-service packaging.
The solution: tomorrow’s new reuse economy
- 841 million disposable food packaging items avoided meaning that 7.5 million tons of materials would be averted annually.
- $5 billion saved by food service businesses from no longer procuring disposables for on-site dining.
- $5.1 billion saved by businesses and city governments on solid waste management costs attributable to disposable food packaging.
- 17 billion pieces of litter prevented through reuse systems. Reusable products (like cups, containers, cutlery, etc.) have value – like a deposit, or charge if not returned – that ensures these products make their way back into the system.
- 193,000 jobs created in food service.
“The food service industry’s reliance on disposables wastes money and resources, while causing harm to communities,” said Miriam Gordon, Policy Director for Upstream and principal author of the report. “But the good news is there’s a new reuse economy emerging that’s disrupting the current disposable paradigm and replacing it with something better.”
“Reuse helps keep the disposables out of local waste streams and litter off the streets –– saving businesses and residents money,” said Sego Jackson, City of Seattle’s Strategic Advisor for Waste Prevention and Product Stewardship who reviewed the report. “From a local government perspective, reusable food service reduces hard-to-recycle products at the source, helping cities reduce costs associated with waste management.” Upstream released Reuse Wins. key findings