#1 PET
Plastic bottles and cups.

THIS WASTE STREAM is comprised of single-use beverage containers made from #1 PET plastic. Most PET beverage containers were for water with some tea drinks mixed in. We estimate that 85% of single-use beverages are grabbed in snack kitchens, making these venues a priority for alternative products and behavior change strategies.

Reduction Potential: High

Material Definition

Polyethylene terephthalate bottles and cups including water bottles, beverage bottles, and single-use drink cups. Caps/lids are included if attached or left on. Items could be clear or of any color.


Shift to reusable beverage service (resuable vessels, bulk beverages such as Bevi or other, Comms to encourage BYOB, etc).

Additional pilots are being conducted.

Examples from Audit

Predominantly Crystal Geyser bottles, with some Hint and green tea bottles mixed in.


While the potential to eliminate disposable beverage waste is high, transitioning to a bulk beverage service with reusable cups and mugs is not without its challenges. Increased labor costs for dishwashing, costs for maintaining washable cups and mugs, and reduced beverage diversity for employees are among them. SUBs remain an option in nearly all snack kitchens at present. While cost savings can be had from reducing SUB purchases, preliminary estimates by Compass Group suggest that the additional costs for dishwashing and vessel stocking may exceed the savings. Recruiting employees to bring, use and wash their own bottles and mugs has the potential of reducing both costs and plastic waste.

Food service accounts that charge employees for individual beverages and snacks face the added dilemma of losing critical revenue from these product sales. The quick service industry, where employees pay to dispense their own bulk fountain drinks into a provided cup, may offer part of the solution.

StopWaste in Alameda County has collected numerous best practices and case studies from food companies that have reduced waste and saved money by switching away from disposable smallwares. Clean Water Action’s Rethink Disposable, which includes best practices, case studies and consulting help, is another resource.