Rethink Disposable in New Jersey

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Rethink DisposableTM

Throwaway packaging from every industrial nation litters beaches and oceans world-wide, piles up in landfills, and contributes vast amounts of methane, and fills incinerators with dioxin-producing plastics. 

Clean Water Action is taking-on single use disposable products. We are targeting the replacement of all kinds of single use products with durable, re-usable alternatives. From shopping bags, to food and beverage packaging, to plastic water bottles, our goal is to minimize the use of single use products.

Rethink DisposableTM has a proven successful track record working with restaurants and institutions to voluntarily reduce waste caused by single-use throwaways. In doing so, they have reduced their environmental footprint and cost of waste disposal and supply purchases, while increasing customer satisfaction and demand for greener-conscious restaurants. Click on the links or continue reading below to learn more about the program. For more info, contact njcwa@cleanwater.org.

Asbury Park Initiative:

Straws are Out, The Environment is In at Asbury Park Boardwalk Restaurants. Clean Water Action, in partnership with the Asbury Park Boardwalk, is launching a “Straws by Request” program this Memorial Day Weekend. Participating establishments include Oyster Bar, The Anchor's Bend, Beach Bar and Wonder Bar. Drinking straws will be given to customers only by request. Look for the signage and educational postcards located at both the entrance, tabletops and the bars. Clean Water Action and the Asbury Park Boardwalk encourage all customers to participate.

The U.S. consumes 500 million straws a day, an amount that could circle the planet more than two-and-a-half times. Straws are made from petroleum, a toxic and polluting non-renewable resource, and are one of the top ten marine debris items found on our beaches. There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. At least 690 wildlife species have encountered marine debris.

Reuse Revolution at Indian Summer 

Clean Water Action is also partnering with the Asbury Park Boardwalk to green the Indian Summer music fest which takes place on the North Beach at Convention Hall each year. Now in it's 4th year, the music fest features local bands, DJs, and a makers market at the Asbury Park Fall Bazaar. Rethink Disposable offers free assistance to assist event organizers in greening the festival by offering reusable cups and bags, encouraging event-goers to bring their own reusable cups, and reducing the use of one-use disposable items like plastic and Styrofoam, which ends up clogging our beaches, oceans, garbage cans, and landfills with unnecessary waste that is also toxic to sea life. At last year's event, these efforts helped reduce almost 800 single use disposable cups and bags from being used and thrown away. This year's event will take place on Saturday & Sunday, September 23rd & 24th. For more info: www.indiansummerap.com   www.asburyparkbazaar.com

Learn more about Rethink Disposable below or contact njcwa@cleanwater.org for more information!

The Problem - Our Throwaway Lifestyle

Garbage CanThe United States represents 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes about a quarter of the planet’s resources. Much of this is a result of our “throw away” lifestyle, whereby many products are used once and then thrown away forever. This started in the 1950s when the plastics and chemical industries sold the American public on the convenience of single-use disposable items.

Decades later, the throwaway lifestyle has led to packaging waste (mostly plastic) making up 30% of American household trash. In 2011, the average American produced 4.4 pounds of household garbage per day, twice as much as in 1960. This linear approach to resource consumption has big impacts for our communities, the marine environment and even how our taxpayer dollars are spent.

Take the Pledge to Reduce Single-Use! 

Join the Reuse Revolution - Ten Things You Can Do Graphic. Credit: ESDesign / Clean Water ActionJoin the Reuse Revolution! There are so many things you can do to reduce your disposables footprint. Make a pledge to continue doing the ones you already do, and choose the new actions you are willing to commit to. Click here to take the pledge.

Action 1: Bring your own shopping bag.

Action 2: Reduce the use of plastic bags for produce & bulk items

Action 3: Bring your own food container and utensils.

Action 4: Carry a reusable water bottle.

Action 5: Pack a waste-free lunch.

Action 6: Bring your own cup.

Action 7: Slow down and dine in.

Action 8: Say no to disposable straws.

Action 9: Avoid heavily packaged foods.

Action 10: Share these tips with friends!

Recycling is Only Part of the Solution

Many people forget that reduce and reuse come before recycling in the 3Rs of waste management (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). While recycling is certainly important, there is often too much focus on diverting single-use disposables from the landfill by recycling or composting instead of stopping this waste before it starts. These materials are resource intensive to produce, manufacture and recycle – overall packaging and single-use products represent an unsustainable use of precious resources (oil, trees, energy, water).

As reliance on single-use disposables has increased, recycling rates have not been able to keep up. In US, 2.4 million tons of plastic were recycled in 2010, which sounds great until you realize that that’s only 8% of the plastic generated.

ReThink Disposable for Businesses

ReThink Disposable is a free technical assistance program that helps food businesses implement best practices to reduce waste and cut costs by minimizing disposable product usage.

Whether you are a caterer, a mobile food vendor, or a restaurant, ReThink Disposable program can:

  • Make recommendations to help your business reduce waste from disposable packaging
  • Purchase some reusable products to help you implement the recommendations (Based on available funding)
  • Measure and report back to you the amount of waste you reduce and your annual cost savings
  • Recognize and promote your business within the community

The following conditions are required for participation:

  • Implement recommended changes within an agreed upon timeline
  • Provide information in a timely manner that allows ReThink Disposable to track and document the progress

ReThink Disposable is a three step process:

  1. Conduct a baseline inventory of the quantity and costs of the disposable products used by your business
  2. Implement recommended practices to reduce the use of disposable food serviceware
  3. Conduct a follow-up inventory to measure reductions and cost savings

If you are a business and are interested in participating in the program, please contact us at njcwa@cleanwater.org or 732-963-9714.

Sample Best Management Practices to Reduce Food and Beverage Packaging

  • Eliminate non-necessary disposable items or make available upon request only (i.e. straws, drink stirrers, toothpicks, etc.)
  • Make optional disposable items self-serve (drink and container lids, hot cup sleeves, napkins in a one at a time dispenser)
  • Use bulk condiments, seasonings and sweeteners – no packets
  • Use reusable dishware for on-site dining (cups, plates, bowls, portion cups, cutlery, etc.)
  • Offer and advertise reusable cup incentive
  • Offer and advertise reusable container incentive
  • Establish staff policies and training (always ask for here or to go, ask first for disposables such as bags and receipts)
  • Implement customer education and engagement
  • Eliminate excess packaging
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