Washing reusables yourself or off-site

Navigating the choice: in-house vs. off-site washing for reusable food packaging

About this article

With the rise of reusable cups and food packaging in catering and food service industries, businesses have to prioritise proper washing. Your business can either wash reusables itself in-house or send them to be washed externally. Read this article for advice from Verive’s Category Manager Stiina on deciding what option makes the most sense for your operations.

calender 10 Apr 2024
clock 5 min
user Stiina Ottender

Exploring various washing solutions for reusables 

Whether you run a bar, do catering in an office canteen or theme park, or even sell to-go coffees, the switch from disposables to reusable packaging requires the implementation of some key changes. Tackling how you will clean reusables cups and packaging is one of the changes that needs to be carefully thought through.  The question to ask is whether you will wash things in-house or have an external partner take care of it for you. Below, Stiina Ottender, Verive’s Category Manager, explains the ins and outs of both systems so that you can confidently decide what’s best for your business. 

“The switch from disposable to reusable packaging requires several significant changes. Washing is one of the changes that require careful consideration.” – Stiina 


Washing reusables on-site: ensuring flexibility, efficiency, and hygiene 

When you wash on-site, the full cycle stays in-house, meaning you have a lot of control over each stage of the process. However, there are a few things you must consider when washing reusables, especially those made from polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), or composite materials like the Verive range. If you are used to washing glass and ceramics, remember that PP, PC, and composite materials have different characteristics that impact how you get the best washing results. 


Stiina’s tips: 

  • Temperature: The temperature must be high enough to destroy bacteria. Find out more about ideal and maximum temperatures in this infographic. 
  • Rinse aid: Using the right chemicals to wash and dry your reusables properly is key. We suggest you use a specific rinse aid to help your reusable packaging and cups dry thoroughly. This also ensures optimal results when washing different materials simultaneously. Please be aware that you can’t just use any type of rinse aid when washing reusables, which is why we include the perfect rinse aid in our range. 
  • Timing: To ensure hygiene, reusables should be washed as soon as possible after use. Make sure to always wash your cups and meal boxes within 72 hours. 
  • Secure your reusables: Because reusable materials are relatively light, make sure to keep them in place when washing. If they fly around or flip over during dishwashing, they can fill with water and interfere with drying. Verive’s washing racks, suitable for your existing dishwashers, will help you keep your reusables firmly in place. 
  • Stacking and storing: It’s advisable to use crates to stack and store the cups before and after washing. We offer crates in different shapes, sizes, and colours. Using different coloured crates helps employees quickly distinguish between different-sized cups, for instance, massively increasing efficiency. 
  • Training: It’s important your staff know how to properly load the dirty reusables in the washing machine and what washing and rinsing aids to use. 
  • Product controls: After washing, perform regular checks on the safety and cleanliness of your reusables. 


Pros and cons of on-site washing 



  • High level of control over the process because you manage the full cycle internally. 
  • High level of flexibility meaning businesses can increase washing speed during peaks. 
  • Fewer reusables required because they remain in-house at all times, which translates into a lower up-front investment in cups and packaging. 
  • Specific expertise and staff training required to properly wash and dry reusables and adhere to food safety standards. 
  • Requires up-front investment in hardware that supports washing, drying, and storage. 


Washing reusables off-site: streamlining processes with external support 

Want to have the washing up handled by true experts? We are happy to take the entire process off your hands. How it works: Stack used cups or other reusable packaging into plastic bags in crates for easy pick-up. When the washing partner picks up your used cups and other reusables, they will leave you with crates full of clean cups and packaging ready for immediate use. 

Many of our customers are already washing their reusables in this way – think office buildings with limited capacity for washing facilities, events venues, and fast food restaurants. Again, our Category Manager offers a few tips for getting the most out of your off-site washing process. 


Stiina’s tips: 

  • Use collection bins with cup stacking. This will minimise the amount of other waste mixed into bins, saving you time and space when preparing your reusables for pickup. 
  • Clearly distinguish between clean and dirty reusables so you can recognise them at a glance. We recommend using different coloured inner bags or crates for this reason. 
  • Make sure dirty cups are with the washing partner within 72 hours after use to ensure utmost hygiene and food safety. 



Pros and cons of washing reusables off-site 



  • Easy to set up with our washing support, ensuring high-quality washing with no delayed start times. 
  • No initial investment in equipment like washing machines, racks, and chemicals. 
  • Efficient use of space especially for sites with limited capacity for washing and storage facilities. 
  • Good for operations with limited staffing as no time is needed for training or washing reusables  


  • Requires logistical management to monitor and keep track of the process. 
  • Less flexibility and control over the washing process and extra communication required to adjust the speed. 
  • Higher stock required to ensure you always have enough reusable packaging available. 


Ready to take the next step? 

Have you decided which system is best for you, but would like additional support with set-up? Need help finding the right hardware or connecting to the right external partners? That’s exactly what we’re here for. Send us an email to, fill out the contact form, or reach out to your nearest regional contact.  

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Stiina Ottender

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