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RE: cafeteria china
Wendy --- A Life Cycle Analysis a china vs. disposables would almost
certainly would favor china & reusable utensils. The environmental cost of
water and wastewater would have to be very dear to outweigh the mountain of
plastic (and the upstream costs of producing the plastics' raw materials)
generated by a large cafeteria. Not all dishwashers are created equal. The
water usage differences of various styles of commercial dishwashers are
discussed in this factsheet by NC DPPEA
>From an economic perspective, the comparison is murkier, as the email below
from David Biddle of the Center for Solid Waste Research discusses. If
your client has the kitchen space and the capital to afford the purchase of
a dishwasher and dishes, that would slant the decision toward china.
Regarding composting of cafeteria food waste, NC DPPEA composted cafeteria
scraps from the Special Olympics here last summer. If your interested,
Craig Coker (919-715-6524) can give you detailed numbers on the cost and
labor of that venture. The bottom line on food scraps composting though is
that the tipping fees would have to be a lot higher than they are now and/or
labor costs would have to be a lot lower. For prisons, where labor is
cheap (very, very cheap) and land is plentiful, food composting can be
economically justified. Otherwise it's altruism.
$ $ $ $
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 something on the lines of $5,000 saved annually (moderately sized
> 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
judgment. 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?
> Hope this helps.
> David Biddle
> Center for Solid Waste Research