- EPA announces two reusable packaging grants aimed at supporting a reusable food and drinkware system initiative in Hilo, including $1.5 million to Hawaiʻi County and over $600,000 to the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant.
- Zero Waste Hawaiʻi Island and Perpetual are facilitating a groundbreaking effort with Hawaiʻi County and the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant to reduce waste from disposable cups, bottles, and food containers.
EPA’s Investment in a Greener Future
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking decisive steps toward mitigating disposable food service waste in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Through two pivotal grants, the Hawaiʻi County Department of Environmental Management and the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) have been entrusted to establish and promote a city-wide reusable food ware and bottle system.
Embracing a Comprehensive Reuse System
“We are excited to begin working with our community to implement this groundbreaking city-wide reusable foodware and refillable bottle system in Hilo,” said Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth. “In the details, the funds are slated to support a wide array of infrastructure—from collection bins to a technology platform for asset management. Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s role, on the other hand, is pivotal in aiding food vendors in Hilo to transition to this new system.
They aim to “bolster the health and resilience of our coastal communities by providing safe, affordable, and reusable food ware options,” as remarked by Dr. Darren T. Lerner, director of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant.
Community Engagement and Collaboration
Behind this initiative is Perpetual, a pivotal entity driving the mission to oust single-use disposables. Their collaboration in Hilo centers around Zero Waste Hawaiʻi Island (ZWHI), an organization committed to zero waste. The collaboration seeks to design a system “rooted in the Hawaiian values of kanaka, ʻāina, and akua connections (People, Land, and Spirit),” as they’ve stated. K. Kuulei Kanahele, ZWHI’s cultural advisor, shared insights from a recent event, emphasizing the importance of “recontextualizing zero waste to uplift Native Hawaiian people and perspectives as leaders in the field of environmental protection.”
Future Endeavors: Community Workshops and Expansion
With a vision for the future, various partnering organizations are gearing up for workshops in Hilo to gather community insights on the system’s implementation. “These two grants will each contribute critical funding for establishing a reuse system at city scale that will drive significant community, economic, and environmental benefits for the city and the island as a whole,” said Dagny Tucker, co-founder of Perpetual. Beyond Hilo’s horizons, Perpetual is also expanding its footprint to other cities, forging partnerships to nurture sustainability.
How the Reusable Packaging Grants Will Help
The combined efforts of the EPA, local entities, and dedicated organizations like Perpetual and Zero Waste Hawaiʻi Island are steering Hilo toward a sustainable future. The grants and collaborations underline a vision where waste reduction, community engagement, and sustainable practices meld seamlessly, with a nod to preserving and promoting Hawaiian values.