Mission Statement:

PFWP is on a mission to inform NYC Residents and food service establishments on how they can help prevent millions of disposable food service containers from going into a landfill or incinerator daily. 

Options for NYC residents:

This section is dedicated to offering suggestions for how people can reduce their personal use of single use food service containers.  

  1. Sign our petition (TBD – general statement that you support reusables)
  2. When eating out at a restaurant, remember to BYO Container for any leftovers you might have. 
  3. Look for vendors that offer reusable container options (add links).  
    • Just Salad
    • Fresh Bowl 
  4. Consider these options to mitigate your impact. 
    1. Create an infographic that shows the following (worst to best):
      • Foam – not recycleable and banned in NYC
      • Paper Chinese food container – not recycleable because it is lined with plastic 
      • Multi material type wrap (foil on one side, paper on the other)
      • Waxed paper
      • Black plastic
      • Clear plastic 
      • Alumimum foil
    2. What to do with it, if you can recycle it do, if you can de-volumize it do that
    3. Dine out at businesses that have reusables
    4.  Reduce the amount you do take out
    5. Clean and recycle 
    6. Always add a not to opt out of utensils if you don’t need them
    7. Don’t throw in recycling it is more than if contaminated – paper
    8. If you see Styrofoam food packaging communicate to the employee that they are banned (SWAB might have messaging suggestion we can link to) 
    9. Encourage business to start a reusable program
    10. Choose to be a parton at businesses that offer reusables
    11. Check out these businesses that have been Surfriders approved (add link)
    12. TELL US WHAT WE’VE MISSED – Let us know if we missed any restaurants or establishments accepting reusable containers, vendors supplying these or products designed to make container reuse easier!
    13. Become an ADVOCATE with us- Are you fed up with plastic food container waste? [JOIN OUR WORKING GROUP- ] TO TACKLE THIS ISSUE! (Enter details)

FAQ for Residents:

    1. Can I bring my own container to a food business for them to put food in?
      • Unfortunately, no. The NYC Department of Health (DOH) has strict guidelines for food service establishments. A food business is not allowed to touch fill your own container with food because of the potential contamination that could be transferred from your container to food prep and service area.  Fortunately there are options for businesses to offer reusables that are in compliance, see ‘Options for Business’ below.

Options for Businesses

There are currently 2 options for businesses who want to reduce single use food containers.

Option 1: Refill

This is the model that the popular NYC food establishment Just Salad offers its customers.  Simply put, 

  1. the business sells a reusable bowl 
  2. it is filled with food
  3. the customer washes it
  4. The customer brings it back to the business to be refilled.
  5. The business has gone through an approval process with NYC DOHMH (add link) to do this.

The NYC Dept of Health says that Food service establishments can sell a reusable container to its customers with the intention that they will be refilled and reused.  Businesses that wish to offer this refill model must submit a “reusable container Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)” for review and approval to the NYC Department of Health. This purpose of this procedure is to ensure the business has a procedure in place to prevent cross contamination with their kitchen. To see a sample of an approved SOP click here, please keep in mind all SOPs have to be customized to the unique elements of the business.

If you are a business interested in learning more please contact _____

Option 2: Exchange 

This is the model that was used by Ancolie and is now used by Fresh Bowl.

    1. the business sells food in durable reusable container
    2. it is filled with food
    3. the customer eats the food and returns the container to the business
    4. The business washes the container and refills it with food

In this system the business has created their own process to serve food in a reusable container that the customer can bring back. The business will have an area for the dirty containers to be returned and they will wash and sanitize the container according to DOH rules (just like a regular plate).  This model does not require DOH approval. 

If you are a business interested in learning more please contact _____

FAQ for Businesses:

  • Why can’t customers bring their own container(s)? (see above)
  • Does reuse really help my business?

Yes it can, consider these areas: 

      • Waste – Reduce waste with every meal, provide waste free meals to go, Become more sustainable, Help NYC Achieve Zero Waste, 
      • Cost – Save money on single use disposables and hauling costs if customers dine in
      • Give your diners choice  – Provide an added value lunch to your customers and less use of Earths natural, Increase customer satisfaction, Raise employee Morale
      • Customers loyalty– Offering a program that helps the social good could increase frequency
    1. Where can I read the exact Dept of health language? (add link)
    2. Why are reusables better? Resources are required to produce, transport, and dispose of single-use serviceware. By sanitizing and reusing the same container many times over, we value our finite resources and reduce our impact on the planet. 
    3. What’s wrong with single use plastic, can’t it be recycled? First, see “Why reusables?” above. A small percentage of single use plastics, like takeout containers, utensils, and cups, actually make their way into recycling bins. Additionally, these items are frequently contaminated with food particles, which lowers their value as a commodity and makes them harder to recycle.
    4. What about washing, doesn’t that use a lot of water? Washing containers does use water and energy.  However, the upstream and downstream impacts of single use plastic are far greater.  For example, it takes at least three times as much water to make a plastic water bottle than the amount of water that bottle actually holds.