Street Eatin'

Tackling the Problem That Is Food Truck Trash

Sustainable-minded service Go Box is making headlines out of Portland. Will Seattle see something similar soon?

By Christopher Werner September 5, 2012

A Portland vendor gets behind Go Box. Photo via Facebook.

Portland may take the cake when it comes to street food, but its curbside revolution is producing some unintended consequences.

Last week NPR ran a story spotlighting Go Box. The Portland-born business is out to combat a mounting problem: food truck trash. According to the NPR article, Portland last year licensed 700 carts (wow, right?), which translates to about 60,000 containers in landfills every month.

What Go Box does is provide food carts—and food cart regulars—with reusable containers. Diners sign up at a participating carts then pay a $12 yearly fee. Used containers are dropped off at designated sites for cleaning, then subscribers receive a token to redeem a new one at their next meal.

Since launching last year, more than 50 food carts and roughly 1,000 people have signed on, according to founder Laura Weiss. "It seems to be an idea that's catching on, which is very exciting." Restaurants are starting to use Go Box for takeout purposes, and so are farmers market and stadium vendors. NPR estimates Weiss has kept 10,000 containers from entering the waste cycle.

It's no surprise Weiss is interested in taking the concept elsewhere, or bringing others on board to plant the seed. She's fielded inquiries from as far away as Stockholm, but what about somewhere closer to home, like Seattle?

"In order to launch in other cities like Seattle, someone with the right amount of time, interest, skills, and passion for the mission would need to be willing and able to make it happen," says Weiss.

Weiss is considering several ways to expand. Most likely she'll license the business to an interested entrepreneur then provide necessary tools—resources, intellectual capital, branding and marketing collateral—to help it thrive.

Any takers?

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