As if I needed another reason to salivate over Portland’s exploding food cart scene, the folks over at GO Box have come up with one: reusable to-go containers.
The idea is simple: Pay $8.50 once and get a token, which you take to a participating food cart. They’ll serve your meal in a reusable container, which you leave at the cart and get another token. Repeat.
I know a lot of residents living near food carts have complained about trash in the past (food carts usually rely on public trash receptacles), so not only does this idea prevent waste, but it can help stop litter, too.
Trash can photo courtesy of flickr user mmewuji under a Creative Commons license.
Tom in Portland
I have heard that it is illegal to refill a food container – even one that you bring with you. County Health Departments enforce this rule, but it is embedded in federal law. If so, how can brewpubs refill growlers? Can anyone confirm this?
Tom in Portland– I don’t know the law, but I don’t think the GO Box would be in violation. The reusable containers are kept on the premise—you pick it up and leave it there (but I suppose you could get your food in a new box, take it home, and return the dirty box next time you’re there). The company picks up the boxes and washes them, so there’s no “refilling”.
I don’t know either, but I do know that Stumptown, World Cup, Peet’s, Ristretto, and even Starbucks will often refill coffee containers with no legal conflict (that I’m aware of) and usually will offer you a discount for doing so.In addition, Eric’s comment applies: this is more of a dishwashing service than a food container refill. Even if it were to somehow violate local health codes, we could simply change those to accommodate this practice. There wouldn’t be too much political difficulty to do so, I don’t think. Of course, I say that now, but I’m not betting on the people who make the food containers rolling up here with their lobbyists. The plastic bag ban/tax comes to mind. Either way, I think this is a dishwashing service and is well in the clear of health code violations.
Of course, the second I finish posting my comment, I check the front page of The Oregonian website and find this story. AGH! Shouldn’t be surprising at this point…