CEH has heard from school district staff, teachers, and families from across the country who are alarmed by the growing amount of disposables in their schools, the toxic chemicals found in these products, and the impacts that they have on our health and environment — which have only been compounded by the pandemic.
We are excited to announce Ditching Disposables: A Toolkit for Healthier Foodware in K-12 Schools. This toolkit is designed to help K-12 schools make the transition from single-use food service ware (FSW) to healthier, more sustainable alternatives. Creating healthy and sustainable school cafeterias requires a closer look at more than just the food that is being served. We should also consider food packaging and what it is served on, in addition to what behaviors are being taught and normalized.
Above all, we suggest that schools consider reusable FSW products first. Reusables eliminate many of the concerns associated with single-use FSW, such as exposure to toxic chemicals (including PFAS and styrene), increased waste production, and some recyclability or compostability issues. While reusables may not be an immediate option for all schools, it is important to prioritize sustainability and health, and look for ways to eliminate single-use products wherever possible.