Zionsville Chamber Implements Compostable Packaging Initiative
The Zionsville Chamber of Commerce is implementing a compostable packaging initiative for restaurants, made possible by a $2,600 community grant from the Boone County Solid Waste Management District (BCSWMD). The grant funds will provide restaurants with eco-friendly carry-out containers, a practice that supports the Town of Zionsville’s recently introduced Climate Action Plan.
According to feedback after a greenhouse gas emissions inventory was conducted by the town last spring, residents and businesses want to help in emissions reduction. The Chamber of Commerce answered the call by applying for the grant, which was awarded at the end of 2020. Funds received will be used to encourage the use of compostable packaging among Chamber restaurant members. Implementation of the program will be facilitated by the BCSWMD.
“With the increase in restaurant carry-out, more packing is going into landfills,” says Jennifer Lawrence, executive director of the BCSWMD. “Styrofoam and plastic are not easy to recycle and they last in landfills for a long period of time. BCSWMD has the ability to purchase compostable packaging for a better price since it has a tax-exempt status, and knows how to maximize each dollar. The Chamber then distributes the packaging for restaurants to use.”
After restaurant customers take their orders home, they will be able to dispose of the containers in an environmentally safe manner. As part of the Climate Action Plan, the Town of Zionsville has partnered with Earth Mama Compost, a local company that offers biweekly curbside compost pickup. After signing up on the Earth Mama website (earthmamacompost.com), residents will receive the service for a 50% discount at a cost of $10 per month. Earth Mama then drops off all picked-up materials at GreenCycle, also a local company, to be converted into nutrient-rich soil.
“We aren’t experts in running a restaurant, so the Chamber got good feedback on the shapes and sizing of packaging preferred during a micro group Zoom call,” Lawrence says. “They are looking to us for our knowledge of what materials to use. We are opening the door so restaurants can see the benefits of using compostable containers.”
The BCSWMD offers grants to benefit the community on an annual basis. Applications are due in the fall and reviewed by the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee and staff. Recommendations are then sent to the board of directors. Grant recipients are notified at the end of the year.
“This is the 11th year for the community grant program,” Lawrence says. “It has benefited over 50 organizations in Boone County. Even after all these years, organizations are still coming up with ideas. I’m excited the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce came to us with this initiative that their restaurant partners will try and hopefully love.”