The San Francisco Bay-area restaurant is just one example of 251 businesses that participate in the ReThink Disposable program. Collectively, the businesses are saving over half a million dollars each year, and eliminating over 200,000 lbs of waste while doing so.

Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is saving $9,880 per year and eliminating 6,910 lbs. of disposable waste

Comforts cafe saves $14,000 per year and eliminates 2.4 tons of disposable waste

Sustainable business practices

Businesses that participated in ReThink Disposable saved even after upfront costs in setting up their reusable systems. “Typically with $300 to $500 we can set up a business to be 100% reuse,” said Grace Lee, program director of ReThink Disposable. “The payback period is within a few months, then [the businesses] are reducing their disposable packaging.”

Disposable flatware and serving items are not better than reusables at preventing the spread of illness and cannot be sanitized the way that reusable items can. ReThink Disposable notes that following the journey of a disposable product from a factory to a consumer is harder than tracking the path of a reusable item from the dishwasher to table. Cleaning, sanitizing, and handling reusable food-service items allows the best control of germs.

Lee emphasizes that reducing single-use items is a necessary part of creating a sustainable business. “There are so many co-benefits. The momentum towards environmental awareness is growing and there’s a huge faction of our society that wants to support businesses that have the same goal of protecting the planet, protecting public health, and also having a healthy economy. It’s the triple bottom line.”

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