The Zionsville Chamber of Commerce recently received a $2,600 grant from the Boone County Solid Waste Management District to test the use of compostable packaging in Zionsville restaurants.
The grant will be used to purchase approximately one week’s worth of compostable packaging containers for four Zionsville restaurants: Salty Cowboy Tequileria, Zionsville Pizzeria, Cobblestone and Hotel Tango’s Zionsville location, according to ZCC Executive Director Allyson Gutwein.
The restaurants, which had received initial shipments of the compostable packages by May 26, were to be the chamber’s test runs of the idea.
If the packages receive favorable feedback, the chamber wants to apply for more grants with the goal of raising enough funds to provide every chamber restaurant member with a month’s supply of compostable packaging, Gutwein said. By providing a free month’s supply, the chamber wants to encourage restaurants to incorporate compostable packaging into their business models.
“That’s going to be a much larger ask,” Gutwein said. “This is essentially a foray into, ‘What does it look like for our restaurants to use compostable packaging? And if we are going to use it, does it make financial sense for those restaurants, and what is the barrier to entry?”
Compostable packages are made of materials that decompose into nutrient-rich soil significantly faster than packages made of other materials, such as non-compostable plastics or Styrofoam.
“With so many people doing carryout these days, there’s a lot more packaging that’s going into the landfill,” Gutwein said. “Especially during COVID, people were wonderful in supporting our restaurants, but that also means that instead of using a plate that is reused at a restaurant, they are now using and sending home with people packaging that is intended to be single-use packaging. And as all of this goes into the landfill, we are filling up our landfill with more and more trash that is going to take a long time to break down.”
Gutwein said the chamber would continue to look for more opportunities to promote sustainable packaging alternatives, complement Zionsville’s Climate Action Plan, which offers residents composting options, and position the town as “Earth-friendly.”