Both reusable and disposable plates are common options for restaurants. Some operators choose disposables because they are quick, simple to clean up after, and appear more cost-effective.
Others choose reusable tableware since it is more environmentally friendly and may significantly enhance how their brand and associated menu are perceived. In recent research, customers were asked what people preferred to eat when dining out.
They reacted by saying that they preferred eating off of clean, undamaged plates rather than on paper or Styrofoam.
Cost of Disposable Dinnerware
Let’s use a restaurant that serves 1,000 customers each week over two years as an example. Let’s assume that this restaurant has a total of 50 seats.
If you use standard 9-inch Styrofoam plates and pay $0.02 for each one, your annual investment will cost you $1,040 ($0.02 per plate multiplied by 52,000 plates).
The $1,040 will remain your yearly cost for disposable plates because you will require one for each customer.
Cost of Reusable Dinnerware
In the same situation, if you select reusable tableware, such as a 9-inch melamine plate for $2.98 per plate, the initial outlay will only be $447 ($2.98 per plate x 150 plates).
Why, in this instance, 150 plates? Because of the reusable aspect, you will only require as many plates as you might with disposables. Remember that there should be three pieces of washable tableware in each seat.
This enables you to use a third, wash a third, and store the last third to get the most usage out of your disposable plates.
Since the average replacement rate for reusable melamine dinnerware is 10%–20% of the initial investment each year (15 plates in our example), your annual replacement cost would be $45–$90—15 plates at $2.98 each.
As you can see, because of the lower initial investment and higher replacement rate of reusables, their initial cost is lower than that of disposables and will continue to be lower yearly.
However, as you shall see, the overall investment for these two well-liked tableware options might vary depending on other operational expenditures.
As you can see, because of the lower initial investment and higher replacement rate of reusables, their initial cost is lower than that of disposable plates and will continue to be lower yearly.
However, the overall investment for these two well-liked tableware options may vary depending on other operational expenditures.
Regarding disposables, you know you will have to pay for trash bags and garbage removal services. Reusable dinnerware, however, necessitates purchasing a dishwashing method if you still need one.
Let’s assume for this essay that using a dishwasher is preferable to hand-washing. For an establishment with 50 seats, comparable to the one above, the dishwasher will price, on average, $1,800.
Over time, though, the cost of the dishwasher will be compensated by the money you save by not using throwaway plates and less garbage service.
Effects of Using Reusable Dinnerware vs Disposable on the Brand of Your Business
Disposables can portray your business and its projected value proposition as casual or dressed down, even while they may be an effective and affordable way to serve your visitors.
Disposables could be the ideal choice for certain operators because this is precisely the ambience they would like to generate for their visitors.
Others, however, may see reusables as a chance to improve their brand’s position in the minds of their visitors.
The main message is that beginning with reusable plates may significantly impact companies looking for a quick, low-cost approach to improve their value proposition. You can charge extra if your visitors think their cuisine is more expensive.
This can assist you in boosting earnings over time while establishing a more upscale impression of your business than disposables can.
What Plate Type Is Best for Your Activity?
It all depends on your objectives.
Dinnerware that is reused costs more per plate than disposable plates. Their expense can eventually be compensated by lower replacement rates, higher menu pricing, and improved brand impression, so you don’t necessarily require as many of them.
Reusables may not be the best choice for every service type. Disposables are a wonderful match if your business exclusively offers takeout meals, such as a food truck, grab-and-go, or concessions stand, or your location needs to be equipped with a dishwasher.