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 operations team embraced the opportunity to 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 and King Farmers Markets have replaced compostable dishware, which often landed in waste bins marked for the landfill, with durable, reusable bowls, plates, cold cups and silverware.

How does Durable Dining work?

After enjoying a meal at Portland State University and King Farmers Markets, customers return their used dishware to the vendor or one of the conveniently located dish return stations throughout the market. Customers can also find compost, recycling and waste receptacles, and 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 PSU Farmers Market was reduced significantly, from an average of 25 bags of garbage per market to nine. The market staff works hard to ensure that the compost stream is clean and free of nonorganic matter.

While the resources used to clean the dishes 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.