GEC is proud to have helped initiate and to co-sponsor Senator Portantino’s SB 1255! Grant Funding for Dishwashers for K-12 Schools and Community Colleges, to reduce single-use cafeteria waste and related costs

Inspired by the successful pilot of a dishwasher installation and conversion to reusable foodware at Franklin Elementary (GUSD), GEC collaborated with GREEN LUNCHROOM and local waste reduction advocates from Burbank Eco Council, BAN SUP, 301 Organics, PTA Green Lunchroom Committee, and others, to craft a proposal that is now being championed by Senator Anthony Portantino!

SB 1255 FACT SHEET – Updated March, 2022


Sacramento, CA – State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) introduced Senate Bill 1255, a measure that establishes a dishwasher grant program to reduce waste in K–12 schools and community colleges to address the state’s single-use trash and waste crisis.

“Installing commercial dishwashers at schools and community colleges will pave the way for safe and reusable food ware,” stated Senator Portantino. “It is time to implement effective and creative solutions to eliminating single-use waste and SB 1255 creates a path for that in our schools. We can prevent single-use items from being utilized and also teach students the value of conservation and environmental protection.”

Currently, there is no program in California dedicated to reducing single-use waste in K–12 school cafeterias and on community college campuses. Commercial dishwashers use little water, heat to high temperatures for complete sanitation, dry quickly, and are fast and energy efficient, lowering the number of dishes needed. These machines can last 15 years, providing significant savings over time and offsetting waste management costs that are expected to rise in the near future. However, industrial dishwashers have high upfront costs that schools cannot afford.

SB 1255 would establish the Dishwasher Grant Program for Waste Reduction in K–12 Schools and Community Colleges and would be administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The Department would provide grants to school districts, charter schools, and community college districts for the purchase and installation of commercial dishwashers at the school sites and campuses.

The idea for the bill was brought to Senator Portantino during a meeting with members of the Glendale Environmental Coalition.

“This legislation would provide what is essentially the ‘holy grail’ for waste reduction in school cafeterias, a means to move quickly and affordably to reusable food ware and away from single use disposables. Removing the upfront costs to purchasing and installing industrial dishwashers and having it be specifically from a pot of funding that does not compete with other kitchen upgrade needs, allows schools and community colleges to reap the rewards of lower hauling costs and lower ongoing purchasing costs, and stem the enormous tide of single use waste created daily on campuses around our State. It’s a win, win, win. Eating from a reusable dish or tray with real silverware also makes reuse normal for students. Right now, normal is throwing everything in a trash can when you have used it for a matter of minutes. This has to change. This bill offers the means,” stated Monica Campagna, a parent and campus caretaker at Glendale Unified School District’s Franklin Elementary School and a member of the Glendale Environmental Coalition.

SB 1255 would require the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to award grants of up to $40,000 per kitchen of a school or campus and to develop administrative guidelines for implementation of the program. The bill would require the Department to develop materials and conduct outreach to those local educational agencies about the program and authorize them to work with the State Department of Education, the Office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, or other relevant state agencies for purposes of the program. Finally, SB 1255 would make the implementation of these provisions contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or another statute.

Update 4/27/22: SB 1255 Passes Senate Education Committee
Update 5/27/22: SB1255 Unanimously Passes CA Senate

Franklin Elementary Pilot Program – The Inspiration!

SB 1255 was inspired by the successful dishwasher pilot program at Franklin Elementary in Glendale. Thanks to the donation of an industrial dishmachine by Hobart, and the ongoing support, including of installation and upgrade costs, by Glendale Unified School District, Franklin was able to substantially cut down on cafeteria waste by ditching the single use spork sets and single-use, compostable trays and moving to reusable trays and silverware.  Not only does this cut down on waste, it cuts down on bag changes by custodial staff, waste hauling charges and ongoing single-use food ware costs. A cost analysis shows a payback period of approximately four years, followed by approximately $7,000 annual savings after that time. And this does not even consider the very real benefits to the students and to the planet! Practising reuse is an incredibly valuable educational (and life) lesson!

Check out this video to see the impact the dishmachine had at Franklin Elementary in Glendale and meet some of the team of staff and parent volunteers behind the transition!

“Ditch the Disposables”—Center for Environmental Health Webinar

Monica Campagna from GEC & GREEN LUNCHROOM and Michael Bridges from GREEN LUNCHROOM talk about their experiences at Franklin Elementary in Glendale CA. As parents, they worked with a small group on the PTA’s Green Lunchroom Committee to get a dishwasher installed.

Many questions are addressed in this over one-hour presentation.. If you don’t have time to watch it all, see time code below:

00:00-04:58 – Intro
04:58-23:40 – Todd, Dishwasher energy and water usage
23:40-36:50 – Monica & Michael, Getting a dishwasher installed in a school in CA
36:50-42:42 – CA Senate Bill (SB-1255) “The Dishwasher Bill” 2022
42:42-50:49 – Dishjoy dishwashing service

GEC / Green Lunchroom Presentation Slide Deck ONLY: LINK

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1 Comment

  • byLauren Bier
    Posted March 21, 2022 1:29 am 0Likes

    I support the passage of SB1255, establishing a grant program for K12 schools and community colleges to substantially cut down on cafeteria waste by ditching the single use spork sets and single-use, compostable trays and moving to reusable trays and silverware. A cost analysis shows a payback period of approximately four years, followed by approximately $7,000 annual savings after that time. And this does not even consider the very real benefits to the students and to the planet.

    Passage of this bill will teach kids the value of reuse vs. use once and toss, in addition to reducing expenses for public schools (as documented in multiple case studies). It will also reduce pollution burdens for municipal waste systems across the state and would remove the biggest barrier to schools moving to reusable systems thus far—a lack of dishwashing infrastructure.

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