Using innovation to reduce, reuse and recycle
Just like our food choices, our selection of to-go containers and disposable serviceware has environmental impacts. At Bon Appétit Management Company, our first choice is always to encourage the use china and silverware. When to-go containers are necessary, we try hard to reduce the effects of the production and disposal.
Since 2001 we’ve been using plates, clamshells, cups, bowls and flatware from renewable sources like corn, sugarcane, and potato starch in select locations. We are conscious that questions remain about the energy inputs required to manufacture and transport these products and the resulting impacts on climate change from both manufacturing and disposal. We continue to research options and await more public, peer-reviewed studies.
We are also actively seeking alternatives to disposable containers. At Eckerd College, we have successfully tested a reusable plastic clamshell designed by a student. This fall we will beta-test this “EcoClamshell” at a corporate location. We are optimistic that this may become a viable solution for many campuses.
What happens after the products are used is crucial as well. We recycle whenever possible and compost at many locations. In Silicon Valley, America Fresh both delivers fresh, local produce to our cafés and picks up compostable material to bring back to the farms. San Francisco has a city-wide composting plan, so our team at AT&T Park can compost much of the waste generated by the ballpark. In Portland a large corporate account collects kitchen scraps and the chef transports them once a week to the municipal composting facility. A corporate campus in San Jose has successfully diverted 200 million pounds of waste away from landfills. At St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, the school has installed a composter that converts daily food waste into rich fertilizer in as little as 14-21 days.
At Bon Appétit we’re open to trying new things and are always looking for ways to decrease our environmental footprint. Our people are committed to research and experimentation. We are confident that will lead to further innovative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.