Stopping Marine Debris at its Source from Coast to Coast
Clean Water Fund is expanding the California-based ReThink Disposable program to seven states on the East Coast and Great Lakes to provide assistance in converting operations from single-use food and beverage packaging to reusable foodware.
Type of Project: Prevention
Region: California, Multi-state
Project Dates: October 2022 - September 2024
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Clean Water Fund is expanding and launching the ReThink Disposable program in six additional states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania—and continuing work in California in partnership with California State Parks.
What is the project and why is it important?
Single-use food and beverage packaging continues to be a common type of debris collected during cleanups across the globe. These items, which are often made of plastic that does not degrade or break down like other materials do, can cause serious harm to sensitive habitats and wildlife, and can significantly impact local economies.
Clean Water Fund's ReThink Disposable program supports businesses and local communities in switching from single-use to reusable items cutlery, take-away containers, and other foodware materials. The project conducts packaging audits to better understand the materials and enhance infrastructure needed to eliminate disposable items. Clean Water Fund and partners are developing a training program, educational materials, data management tools, and a communications strategy to support the expansion of the ReThink Disposable program to new locations.
The project is eliminating an estimated 5-8 million pieces of single-use foodware each year by converting 120-150 businesses and 3-5 institutions to using reusable foodware instead. Food service establishments already participating in the California-based program continue to rely on reusables years after their initial conversion. The target audience includes small businesses and institutions, state agencies, partner communities, local stakeholders, and neighborhoods faced with environmental justice concerns. By reducing the use and possible escape into the environment of single-use plastics, this work will benefit a number of protected species and spaces on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts as well as in the Great Lakes.