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Alameda County Schools Launch Reusable Foodware Pilot Project

November 9, 2022

On October 24, Alameda County’s second schools reusable foodware pilot project launched at Bay Farm Elementary School in Alameda following a successful inaugural launch at Anna Yates Elementary School in Emeryville. Schools replaced single-use compostable trays and plastic utensils with reusable stainless-steel ones—at least 50,000 items will be saved from going to the landfill this year at Anna Yates Elementary School, as a result of the switch. In addition to its environmental benefits, the project reduces students’ exposure to toxic chemicals, like PFAS, typically found in single-use foodware.  

The project is a result of years of partnerships with school districts, teacher and student champions, StopWaste Advisory Group in Education (SAGE), as well as the Center for Environmental Health and Clean Water Fund. StopWaste’s reusable foodware grants program is helping get these initiatives off the ground, awarding over $245K over the past two years to help fund reusable foodware as well as equipment needs like dishwashers.  

StopWaste and partners hope to learn from this project and build a model for other school districts to replicate. Justin Lehrer, Operations Manager says, “Emery students have worked tirelessly educating their peers, families, and school leaders on how to reduce single-use plastic waste in our communities. StopWaste and partners are committed to finding solutions that benefit the community and the environment. We’re excited about Emery Unified’s role as the first school district in Alameda County to transition to reusables and how it will help serve as a model for other school districts interested in realizing the health and environmental benefits of reusables in the county too.” 

Up next, the project is expected to roll out in additional schools in Alameda and Berkeley Unified School District plans to launch its pilot at King Middle School in the upcoming months.   

To learn more about the Alameda County Schools Reusable Foodware Program, read Center for the Environmental Health’s press release. To learn more about transitioning your school to reusables, contact Center for the Environmental Health