Six largest school districts to remove 225 million polystyrene trays a year from landfills by creating a new compostable round plate for cafeterias.
NEW YORK – The Urban School Food Alliance (Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United
States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, announced that it
will start rolling out the use of compostable round plates at cafeterias this month, saying good-bye to
polystyrene trays. Food and nutrition directors in the Alliance specified the round shape to allow students to
eat their food off of plates like they do at home, replacing the institutional rectangular lunch tray.
“This news is a game changer,” said Alliance Chairman Eric Goldstein and chief executive officer of School
Support Services for the New York City Department of Education. “As leaders in school meals, we’re proud to
create a product that students will not only find easy to use, but one that also protects the environment for
many years to come.”
The districts in the Alliance collectively procure more than $550 million in food and supplies annually to serve
more than 2.9 million students enrolled in their schools. A landmark collaboration, the Urban School Food
Alliance’s six districts worked together to challenge industry to develop an innovative and affordable
environmentally-friendly round plate to replace the standard polystyrene tray school cafeterias use across the
country. Serving 2.5 million meals a day, the six districts project to remove 225 million polystyrene trays from
landfills every year.
“These cities are teaching kids that sustainability and smarter choices can be integrated into every part of your
daily life – even your lunch,” said Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), one of the nation’s leading environmental and public health organizations and a non-profit partner of
the Alliance. “Shifting from polystyrene trays to compostable plates will allow these cities to dramatically slash
waste sent to landfills, reduce plastics pollution in our communities and oceans, and create valuable compost
that can be re-used on our farms. We are proud to work with a group of school systems dedicated to driving
landmark changes in the health and sustainability of school food.”