In Durham, N.C., GreenToGo offers sturdy plastic reusable containers — a single compartment or a three-compartment version — that are used by about 30 restaurants. More than 700 consumer subscribers, who pay a monthly or yearly fee, can check out the containers via a smartphone app.
All guests have to do is request a GreenToGo container when they buy takeout and later return the container to various collection points, like area grocery stores. The containers are washed at a commercial kitchen and returned to the participating restaurants.
The system allows restaurants to save money on purchasing disposables and know they are reducing what ends up in the waste stream, said Derek Rowe, GreenToGo’s director of solutions and innovation.
The company plans to add a cup to the system in September, and soon the service will expand to Raleigh, N.C.
GreenToGo, which in Durham is supported by a nonprofit, has open-sourced its materials and created an incubator program for cities that want to start their own reusables system.
Rowe said the idea has caught on among local employers, who purchase subscriptions for employees as a job perk. So far eight employers have signed on, which has boosted participation.
“When the subscription is free, there’s less of a hurdle for users,” said Rowe.