News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 09/12/2018
Subject :

Palo Alto Businesses Recognized for Reducing Food-Packaging Waste
Contact : Joanna Tran, Public Works Program Assistant    650-329-2518

Palo Alto, CA – On Monday, Sept. 17, Mayor Liz Kniss will honor Palo Alto restaurants for their completion of the ReThink Disposable Certification process and their commitment to the City of Palo Alto’s Zero Waste and pollution prevention goals. Gelataio, Kirk’s SteakBurgers, Palo Alto Baking Co., New York Pizza, and Sprout Café are the five restaurants that will be recognized during the City Council meeting.  Mayor Kniss will also acknowledge three other businesses that are in the process of becoming ReThink Disposable certified: The Counter, The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center’s Nourish Café, and Teaspoon. 

“We appreciate the leadership of the businesses that completed the ReThink Disposables program. Their efforts are what is needed from restaurants everywhere to reduce litter in our streets and creeks, and to keep plastics out of the Bay,” said Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss. “The results from the businesses that have participated in this program clearly show that customers appreciate the changes, and it saves restaurants money.”

ReThink Disposable, an award-winning and results-driven program of the nonprofit Clean Water Action, has partnered with the City of Palo Alto’s Public Works—Watershed Protection to empower food service businesses to reduce packaging at the source. Food service packaging generates unnecessary waste and litter that imperils our regional waterways and is costly for businesses to continually procure and haul away. Preventing single-use packaging, rather than trying to improve recycling, composting and waste-disposal, is the best long-term solution both for both businesses and the planet.

The ReThink Disposable certification process gives businesses individualized assistance from trained auditors who offer recommendations for cost-saving practices to reduce single-use food packaging. Auditors calculate the annual impacts of recommendations including pieces of packaging and pounds of waste reduced, as well as net cost savings. Participating businesses are currently preventing over half a million disposable packaging items and 14,000 pounds of waste each year.

Rick Junker, Kirk’s SteakBurgers owner was at first skeptical until he saved almost $4,000 annually when he became ReThink Disposable certified. “From an operational perspective, I wasn’t sure we would be able to easily incorporate the use of reusable drinking cups and sandwich baskets. The ReThink team was great to work with and made that transition much easier, with very little impact on our work flow,” Junker said.

The award ceremony is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. in the Palo Alto City Hall Council Chambers, located at 250 Hamilton Avenue.

“We are enthusiastic about the momentum we’re building to ‘unpackage’ Palo Alto and prevent pollution in the city. Eliminating unnecessary food-packaging is a business-friendly way of helping Palo Alto meet its Zero Waste goals, and the visible reduction in street and waterway litter will continue to increase as more businesses become certified,” said Samantha Sommer, Waste Prevention Program Manager at Clean Water Action.

This event represents a milestone in a three-year collaboration between Clean Water Action and the City of Palo Alto to reduce waste and litter in the city’s streets and waterways.