GO Box Reduces Food Cart Waste In Portland

GO Box Reduces Food Cart Waste In Portland

Photo by L. Tess Keith
Food Carts in Portland
The city of Portland, Oregon has between 600 and 700 food carts throughout the city. Food Carts are "portable restaurants" along streetsides and provide practically any kind of food desirable to hundreds of people every day.

Food carts serve quick, delicious meals to time-starved business people and downtown visitors looking for a quick lunch. Generally, those food cart meals are served in disposable, non-returnable, single-use containers made of plastic or paperboard.

Once the meal is finished, the container is tossed into a trash can. With an estimated 60,000 disposable food containers used each month by Portland's downtown food carts, that's a lot of unnecessary waste going into landfills!

GO Box: Reusable and Recyclable

Photo by L. Tess Keith

However, there is a solution to all those single-serve disposables filling up landfills. Environmentally-conscious Portlanders are turning to Go Box, a durable, reusable and recyclable food container.

Go Box is a subscription service whereby a patron pays a one-time fee up front and receives a token. When buying lunch at the food cart, the token is presented and the meal is served in a Go Box. When the meal is finished, the Go Box container is returned to the food cart and another token is issued. If the patron is on the go and won't be near the food cart when finished with the meal, there are also three "drop sites' which aren't food carts, that the Go Box can be dropped off and a token is issued.

Go Box retrieves the used food containers, which are made of recyclable #5 plastic, at each food cart and transports them to two local restaurants. The containers are professionally washed and sanitized and then returned to the participating food carts.

How Popular Is Go Box?
"Currently, there are 25 participating food carts, soon to be 27. Go Box has 450 subscribers participating and the number is growing", stated Laura Weiss, founder of Go Box. She launched the business in July of 2011 after about a year of planning and testing.

Ms. Weiss stated, "My biggest challenge was developing the return process." After trial-and-error with a drop-box machine didn't work, the current system was developed.

Ms. Weiss said, "I've had inquiries about doing the Go Box service in several other cities, like Honolulu, Minneapolis, and Austin, Texas. I would create a license model for other cities."

Go Box also works for restaurants, and in fact, Go Box has two signed to the program. Ms. Weiss also has a Corporate Go Box program with two companies signed on. It is a great way for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by helping their employees reduce the amount of waste generated in the office.

Laura Weiss, Founder of Go Box. Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Food carts are popular across the U.S. and around the globe, especially London, England and in Asian countries. Go Box is a fantastic idea that will help reduce unnecessary waste and ensure that food containers are recycled, thereby reducing the amount of plastic going into landfills and the ocean!

In this photo, Laura Weiss, founder of Go Box, stands by a food cart. For more information and Ms. Weiss' story, visit Go Box website.

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