Businesses participating in waste reduction are saving money while protecting the planet and protecting public health.
ReThink Disposable, a program of Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund, will soon be wrapping up a two-year collaboration in Alameda, and the results are inspiring. Currently, 84 Alameda businesses are participating in the program and 56 have been certified. Collectively, Alameda’s ReThink Disposable businesses are eliminating close to two million pieces of disposable food packaging items and preventing almost 24,000 pounds of waste every year!
Participating businesses include bakeries and cafes, restaurants, bars, and a movie theatre. Certified businesses implement various cost-saving practices to reduce unnecessary packaging waste, transition to reusables for onsite dining, and encourage refilling of customers take-out containers.
The project, which began in 2017, has piloted a model for how a city can be transformed when community stakeholders are given the tools and resources to dramatically reduce single-use disposables while engaging the entire community in zero waste practices. This project received valued support from the City of Alameda’s Public Works Department, the Downtown Alameda Business Association, the West Alameda Business Association, the Community Alliance for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA), and student interns from Alameda high schools.
“Alameda made an excellent model city to pilot grassroots behavior business transformations and behavior change tactics coupled with a supporting policy,” says Nina Foushee, Communication Manager for Clean Water Action. “Reuse is the new norm that cities should be striving for, and Alameda is leading the way!”
Crispian Bakery made a range of replacements for their certification, including replacing disposable plates, cups, and food-sample ramekins with reusables. As a result of implementing ReThink Disposable’s recommendations, Crispian Bakery saves $1,739 annually while eliminating the use of over 59,000 disposable items each year.
Hang Ten Boiler previously served all their food and beverages in single-use packaging. As a result of certification, they now use reusables onsite and straws are available only upon request. These operational changes save the business owner $15,944 each year and prevent an annual 318,271 pieces of waste.
Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and its adjoining restaurant, Cinema Grill, used disposables for in-theatre dining prior to the ReThink Disposable certification. Now, in-theatre meals are served on reusable plastic platters and drinks in reusable tumblers. As a result of becoming certified, the Theatre now prevents 603,243 pieces of disposable packaging and saves $9,881 each year. Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is also educating patrons about the importance of source reduction — before every movie, the theatre plays a humorous ReThink Disposable animated short about the transition to reusables and the importance of waste prevention.
Clean Water Action’s ReThink Disposable team looks forward to bringing the model that was developed in Alameda to other communities that are looking for long-term and results-driven solutions to stop the wave of growing waste, litter, and pollution stemming from disposable food service packaging.
Learn more about the ReThink Disposable program: www.rethinkdisposable.org