Durable Dining

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What is Durable Dining?

Durable Dining is Portland Farmers Market’s initiative to encourage more reuse and less waste at the markets by having hot food vendors at select markets serve their goods exclusively on reusable dishware.

Portland Farmers Market is committed to reducing the market’s ecological footprint wherever possible and inspiring change in our market community of customers and vendors.

The Portland Farmers Market team embraced the opportunity to make the switch from disposable to durable when the City of Portland changed its commercial composting rules to disallow non-food waste. Vendors at the Portland State University, King, Northwest, and Kenton markets have replaced compostable dishware, which often landed in waste bins marked for the landfill, with durable, reusable dishes and silverware. Vendors at the Shemanski Park and Pioneer Courthouse Square markets continue to use disposable serviceware.

How does Durable Dining work?

After enjoying a meal at Portland State UniversityKingNorthwest, and Kenton markets, customers return used dishware to specially marked bins at the dirty dish stations where they can also find compost, recycling and waste receptacles, as well as drinking and hand-washing water. Dishes are sorted throughout the day by market staff and returned to vendors each week for washing, sanitizing and service at the next market.

Is Durable Dining really more environmentally-friendly?

As a result of this switch, landfill output at the flagship PSU market has already been reduced by more than half, from an average of twenty five bags of garbage per market to nine. The compost stream is clean and entirely free of nonorganic matter.

While the resources used to clean the dishes do have an environmental footprint, the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work website shows that the cost benefits of durable dishes triumph over disposables after as few as 17 reuses. In restaurant settings, dishes are typically reused about 2,500 times.