RE: [GRRN] FW: cafeteria quandary

Mary Tkach (
Fri, 16 Apr 1999 13:34:38 -0500

I would also offer that a "dishware amnesty day" at the end of semesters may
recover a fair deal of the "lost" stuff.

Collection boxes in dorm halls and other hangouts might net more than a
campus started with. (Ever look in a campus dumpster at the end of the

Mary Tkach

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 12:39 PM
To: multiple recipients of
Subject: Re: [GRRN] FW: cafeteria quandary

Dear Blair, Dick, GreenyesPeople,

Ain't no easy answers in the food service materials wars! I'm sure you will

get many references to Life-Cycle Cost Studies that may or may not be done
well. I never saw one that made real sense.

We did a great deal of work for a number of large food service contract
outfits back in the early 90's when they were getting slammed for their
devotion to disposables. Obviously, we had a lot of contact with a number of

the disposables manufacturers. On the whole, the best simple article I ever
saw was by Will Gehr in, I believe, a November 1990 BioCycle. I recall that
the model showed disposables (may have been PS and not paper...can't
remember) losing by nearly a 50% margin...purely on an economic basis. But I

also recall that the model did not take into account the "disappearance
factor" of most permanent ware. I think dollar wise though we were talking
about someting on the lines of $5,000 saved annually (moderately sized
college cafeteria).

One thing to note about the food service contractors is that they often have

what they call "strategic partnerships" with suppliers...meaning that since
they buy in bulk they often get discounted pricing that is outrageous. Even
more bizarre is that they sometimes get what are euphemistically called
'subsidies' from suppliers too for large quantity orders. In other words it
is in their best interest to encourage the use of products because they make

say a mil per hot cup used.

This all said, on a purely economic basis, for an institution, it usually
makes sense to use permanentware...but only marginally. If they have a
contract feeder, the economics becomes murky and far from simple.

Bottomline though is that the margins we are talking about are not huge.
Thus, decision making becomes a matter of priorities...a good old value
judgement. What is the added space worth? What is not letting the dishwasher

go worth (assuming the creation of jobs is viewed by the institution as part

of its mission)? What is the cost of renovations? Will those temporary jobs
make up for the permanent loss of an opportunity for kids and/or unskilled
workers in the community to have the job as dishwasher? And if the
plates and their packaging are speced out to include recycled content? What

Hope this helps.

David Biddle
Center for Solid Waste Research

Blair Pollock wrote:

Green yessers, please reply to both Dick Sloane and the list serve. I will
let Dick know to subscribe to the list but in the interim, please post any
info to him if you can. Thanks. Blair.

>From: "Sloane.Dick" <>
>Do any of you have first-hand knowledge or know of a good reference on
>subject below. (Dishwashing vs paper plates. Energy and "green"
>> ----------
>> From: Sloane.Dick
>> Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 10:29 AM
>> To: Johnson.Laurie
>> Cc: Sloane.Dick
>> Subject: RE: cafeteria quandary
>> Boy, this is a tough one. Likewise, manufacture of plates, cups, bowls
>> requires lots of water and energy. I'd like to see if EPA, the state, or
>> some dedicated grad student has looked into this. I'll do some digging
>> ----------
>> From: Johnson.Laurie
>> Several people have expressed an interest in enlarging the food
>> service area of the cafeteria.
>> Evidently, the most obvious way to find this space would be to
>> eliminate the dishwasher and
>> use only paper products. We have been asked to bring this up with
>> EAAC members to see
>> what you thought. While our initial reaction was to strongly oppose
>> this idea, the dishwater
>> does use a great deal of hot water and its elimination would save
>> energy.
>> Please give us your thoughts by Earth Day, April 22.
>> Thank you.
>> John & Laurie

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