Portland, Ore., July 23, 2015 – Portland Farmers Market has announced that all prepared food vendors at the Portland State University, King, Northwest, Buckman and Kenton markets now serve their goods exclusively on reusable dishware effective with the start of this year’s market season.
The Portland Farmers Market team seized the opportunity to make this switch when the City of Portland changed its commercial composting rules to disallow non-food waste. Vendors at these five markets have replaced compostable dishware, which often landed in waste bins marked for the landfill, with durable, reusable dishes and silverware.
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, and feedback has been positive from patrons and vendors alike.
“It’s not the easiest way to do things, but it’s definitely the right way,” says Michael Martinez, owner of Enchanted Sun Breakfast Burritos and ten-year market vendor. “We’re excited to lead the way to shift the market mindset from disposable to durable. It provides an improved dining experience for our customers, sets an example for markets across the nation, and is cost-effective for vendors in the long run.”
After enjoying a meal, market-goers return used dishware to specially marked bins at the dirty dish stations where customers 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. 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. Shoppers that are on the go can have their meal served in to-go packaging upon request.
“Finding new, sustainable solutions takes some creativity, but we’re willing to experiment to see what works,” says Trudy Toliver, Executive Director of Portland Farmers Market. “As part of our mission to support local farmers and food producers, it’s our responsibility to implement practices that have a real, measurable impact on our waste stream, the environment, and ultimately, the farmers and food producers who make up the market.”
About Portland Farmers Market
Founded in 1992, Portland Farmers Market operates world-class farmers markets that contribute to the success of local food growers and producers, and create vibrant community gatherings. The independently-run local 501(c)6 nonprofit, a business association supporting farmers and food artisans, employs seven full-time and six part-time employees who manage seven weekly farmers’ markets in the Portland area year round. More than 700,000 shoppers purchased farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, baked goods and other specialty foods from more than 190 vendors generating more than $8 million in sales in 2014. In addition to operating markets, Portland Farmers Market also serves as an incubator for emerging businesses, a leader of the local food movement, a source of education, a culinary focal point in the community, a cultural destination complete with musical entertainment, and a beacon for Portland’s sustainability movement. To learn more about how Portland Farmers Market aims to grow, nourish and inspire the community, become a Twitter follower, Facebook fan, blog reader and visit portlandfarmersmarket.org.