First of all, let me thank you, thank you, thank you all for taking the time to write such helpful comments to me as we try to restructure our buying behavior and try to reduce, reuse and recycle more here. One of my colleagues is in contact with recycledproducts.org and we're seeing what's the best price we can get. Like one of you told me, sometimes just having a price quote and a firm determination to buy recycled can force a paper representive to come back with a "better price" for recycled products! We'll see how it works out here.
Second, as we look at other waste streams, one seems to be particularly troublesome. We've got a building with about 200 employees. We have a small cafeteria that serves hot (and good believe it or not) food daily to a large proportion of the staff. The problem is that we use a lot of disposable products - I'm sure some corner of the landfill has our logo on it. At any rate, we're like to know the options or have referrals to those who have dealt with this before (someone suggested the green restaurant association? is this national or local on a city by city basis?), so that we can propose some alternative options.
Right now, we have recyclable paper trays; styrofoam plates and cups; desserts, side dishes and salads that come in plastic trays with clear plastic lids (not recyclable I don't think). First, can you recycle styrofoam? Is there a market for this? How do you have to clean up the styrofoam to recycle it? I've heard of biodegradable cutlery. But someone else said this is just a feel-good remedy because the material is just pelletized plastic that degrades into pellets, which do not degrade readily. Does anyone know the environmental tradeoff between styrofoam and paper? How about washing dishes (energy in terms of hot water and soap) vs. either of the aforementioned disposables?
We are trying to find out why we don't have a dishwasher and regular plates. I've heard it's for cost-cutting purposes and perhaps lack of space. The only way I can foresee a change is if it's cost-effective or at least comparable to what we're doing now. Any suggestions?