The cafeterias at work recently changed from centralized distribution of napkins (i.e. big pileswith the flatware) to per-table dispensers.
On the face of it, this would seem to be more costly in both the one-time cost of dispensers (not huge) and ongoing cost of having a personkeep them all stocked. At the same time, having a disposable resource so close to hand would seem to encourage more wasteful consumption through sheer convenience.
My suspicion is that the numbers tell a different tale. Once the habits are changed, I suspect patterns shift to a more just-in-time consumption model where napkins are pulled as needed and not in bulk 'just in case'. Waste through claimed but unused napkins likely drops as a result.
Obviously this post isn't really about napkins.