Editor’s Note: StopWaste.Org is a institutional member of the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA). Justin Lehrer is the RPA executive representation and the program manager for the StopWaste workshops.
Oakland, CA—Alameda County public agency StopWaste.Org has been awarded $499,000 in U.S. EPA grant funding to expand the reach of their successful “Use Reusables” campaign (www.usereusables.com) to businesses and communities nationwide, over the next three years. Built on a successful public-private partnership model, the campaign helps businesses replace limited-use transport packaging—such as pallets, boxes and stretch wrap—with more durable, reusable alternatives. Key benefits include cost savings, waste reduction and avoided CO2 emissions.
The grant comes under the EPA Climate Showcase Communities Program, set up to fund state, local and tribal government programs that mitigate climate change and can serve as models for other communities across the country. EPA has funded 22 grants nationwide, totaling $8.3 million. Alameda County is one of only three communities chosen in California. “The innovative program developed by StopWaste.Org will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but will help businesses increase their competitiveness in the new green economy,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. The Use Reusables campaign has the potential to eliminate at least 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions each year, based on a five-year average life of reusable transport packaging. This amount is comparable to taking 294,118 cars off the road for one year.
The grant-funded work will be carried out by the StopWaste Business Partnership, StopWaste.Org’s business assistance program. “Our Use Reusables campaign helps businesses increase their supply chain efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of their operations, in particular waste and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win,” said StopWaste.Org program manager Justin Lehrer. “The EPA grant will allow us to help agencies throughout the country replicate this successful model.”
Since its launch in 2007, the Use Reusables campaign has worked one-on-one with 362 individuals representing 211 organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, through hands-on training workshops, events and expert advice, supported by a suite of educational materials and a comprehensive website. The campaign has helped many companies transition to reusable transport packaging, saving millions of dollars in packaging expensesand disposal costs, as well as preventing thousands of tons of waste. The EPA grant will support the continuation and expansion of these outreach efforts, to include individualized consultations on planning and implementing a switch to reusables, cost savings analysis and financial assistance, and the development of additional outreach tools.
The campaign’s primary program partner is the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA), a non-profit trade association representing manufacturers, distributors and others in the reusable transport packaging industry. The RPA’s supply chain expertise and role as the collective voice of the industry have been critical to the Use Reusables campaign’s success. The RPA will continue to conceptualize and conduct the workshops. In addition, they will develop a training curriculum and lead the effort to bring the campaign’s tools to a national audience. For RPA President Jerry Welcome, the EPA funding comes at the right time: “Supply chains rarely stop at regional borders, and are, in fact, growing in reach and complexity,” he said. “Taking the Use Reusables program nationwide is exactly what the American manufacturing and distribution sectors need right now to help keep businesses competitive.”