The City of Alameda partnered with Clean Water Fund’s Rethink Disposable program on a project called “Unpackaging Alameda” which was funded through a grant from the Ocean Protection Council and was active through June 2019.
The ReThink Disposable team worked with restaurants and food businesses across town to implement cost-saving practices designed to reduce disposable packaging and transition to washable reusables. Most of us know reusables as real dishware, glasses and silverware that one can wash and reuse. No more plastic, paper, or other types of disposable materials. CASA supported Clean Water Action through its ReThink Disposable Volunteer Ambassador program (local volunteers visiting Alameda restaurants to inform them of the program) and ReThink Disposable Youth program (students from our high schools conducted litter audits and raised awareness about single-use disposables). Together, they reached out to the over 300 food businesses on the island to offer free assistance and financial support to purchase reusable food ware.
Nearly 100 restaurants signed-up for the program and received guidance on how to “unpackage” their operation to stop waste before it starts. At the end of the project, 80 businesses were officially certified! 21 of these businesses were certified with data. Using this data plus packaging reduction metrics from past ReThink Disposable participants, Clean Water Action projected that the “Unpackaging Alameda” Project helped businesses in Alameda eliminate 6,199,840 pieces of single use food ware annually, preventing 32.34 tons of waste, and collectively saving businesses $139,231 a year.
EXAMPLES OF RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE TRANSITIONED TO WASHABLE RESUABLES:
*These businesses signed up to the program before they opened, received recommendations with technical assistance, but were not able to complete the program within the timeframe of this grant. These owners also agreed to implement the changes as soon as they open for business.
**This business is currently open but needs to exhaust their stock of disposable items before they switch to the already purchased reusable items that they have committed to using.