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Tray Service

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Design Guidance

Overall Strategies

Trays, cutlery and plates can be either reusable or compostable and biodegradable, and each option has advantages and disadvantages. Reusable serviceware keeps material out of the waste stream and prevents the overuse of plastic which does not decompose, however it also requires energy- and water-intensive machinery to clean and sterilize. The cleaning equipment must be planned out carefully as it requires significant floor area. Compostable and biodegradable serviceware, however, does not require the cleaning equipment and can be discarded after single use with little adverse effect on the environment. Plates, cups, and cutlery can be plant-based in lieu of plastic, and trays can be made of heavy unbleached paperboard. These options require planned storage for inventory since they cannot be reused, and though biodegradable they do increase the overall waste stream.

Best Practices

  • Using reusable trays and serviceware minimizes waste, but they require hot water and soap to clean and sterilize.
  • Use biodegradable alternatives to plastic if using disposable take-out containers, flatware, and plates.
  • Serve condiments via large dispensers and small recyclable cups to reduce waste and support buying condiments in bulk.

Compare Tray Service Options

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EB = Existing BuildingsNC = New Construction and Major Renovation

Federal Requirements

Guiding Principles