Green Certification
Porter County Green Certification
Porter County Green Certification

Porter County Green Certification

Be a part of the solution toward a cleaner, healthier Porter County.

The Porter County Green Certification was created by the Valparaiso University Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County. This certification is part of the Porter County Plastic Waste Reduction Initiative, which seeks to help individuals and the greater community realize the amount of single-use plastic used on a day-to-day basis in order to effectively reduce single-use materials.


How Can I Help?


44% of plastic litter in rivers and oceans is composed of take-out food and beverage containers. Restaurants have a responsibility to actively be a part of the solution to minimize single-use plastic waste. Additionally, being ecologically sustainable is not only good for the environment, but also attractive to restaurant-goers who are environmentally conscious and consume responsibly.


Only 5% of plastic waste gets recycled in the US. As a customer, you have a choice to consume responsibly and act as grassroots motivators to push restaurants to change. As a resident of Porter County, you can help be a part of the solution by participating in the Porter County plastic audit. This program is designed to help the community take accountability for the amount of plastic they are using.

How to Get Green Certification

The following checklist contains standards to determine if your restaurant currently engages in low practices. Additionally, these items serve as guidelines to improve waste management practices. Complying with at least 15 of these action items completes the necessary requirements to achieve the Porter County Green Certification to display in your restaurant.


  • Washable cups for all dine-in beverages
  • Washable silverware for dine-in orders
  • Washable plates for all dine-in orders
  • Washable portion cups for dine-in orders (if applicable)
  • Cloth napkins for dine in orders
  • Bring your own cup program, with a discount for bringing your own or a charge for disposable (must have a visible sign promoting this).
  • Bring your own take-out container program, with a discount for bringing your own or charge for disposable (must have a visible sign promoting this).

Upon Request Giving

  • Ask customers if they need cutlery, condiments, straws, and/or napkins (to-go orders)
  • Ask customers if they need ketchup or other condiments instead of bringing it automatically with food.
  • Refillable bottles may be left on tables instead. (dine-in orders)
  • Charge for utensils for to-go orders or discount if guests don't take utensils (must have a visible sign promoting this)

Food Waste

  • Food waste is tracked and reported to management
  • Food donation program is utilized
  • Food waste is diverted to a composting or animal feed recycling program


  • All cardboard is recycled
  • Plastic bottles and cups, glass bottles, metal, cartons, and paper cups are recycled. (FOH and BOH recycling bins required if materials are discarded in both areas)
  • Signage displayed on/above the recycling and trash bins with pictures of products used (showing how to sort waste)
  • Employees are trained on how to incorporate recycling and waste reduction as part of their job

Disposable Products and Packaging

  • No plastic bags used for to-go orders
  • No plastic and/or foam to-go containers/plates (for take-out and dine-in orders)
  • No plastic and/or foam drink cups for ALL beverages (dine in and to-go)
  • No disposable lids or straws used for dine in drinks (guests may use straws- available upon request)
  • If guests have access to condiment dispensers, washable portion cups or disposable paper used for dine-in orders (no plastic)
  • Bulk packaging (no individual packets) for >/= 70% of dine-in condiments: pepper, salt, ketchup, jelly, butter, coffee creamer, etc.

Menu Options

  • Reusable menus
  • Menu listed on QR code
  • Menu on Chalkboard

Recycled Content in Disposable Products

  • Paper plates/take out boxes use either 50% post-consumer fiber (must be unbleached/brown), sugarcane, or bamboo
  • Paper cups use either 50% post-consumer fiber (must be unbleached/brown), sugarcane, or bamboo
  • Napkins use at least 70% post-consumer fiber (must be unbleached/brown)
  • Paper towels use at least 50% post-consumer fiber (must be unbleached/brown)
  • Plastic utensils use at least 30% PCR Trash bags contain at least 50% recycled plastic (must either dump recycling lose or use clear bags (no black), trash is able to be black bags)
  • Other item with recycled content (must describe)


  • Solid/powdered ware washing detergents utilized
  • Community Environmental Engagement
  • Charitable donations to environmental causes
  • Only hand dryers in customer restrooms (no paper towels)
  • Other waste reduction initiatives (please describe)
  • Community Environmental Engagement

Together, We Can Make a Difference

Reach out today to apply for your Porter County Green Certification, and proudly display it in your restaurant!

Porter County Plastic Waste Reduction Initiative

We would like to work with you to develop sustainable solutions for plastic waste in our community. We accomplish this with educational presentations, waste audit assistance, observation assessments, and residential surveys.

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