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Reduce take-out plastics

Sunnyvale restaurants only give straws, plastic cup lids, and plastic utensils upon request from patrons for in-store or to go orders.

Photo of Rebecca B
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How are you connected to Sunnyvale?

  • I live in Sunnyvale.

What type of applicant are you?

  • Community member

Stage of Development.

  • Idea with a working prototype

What problem are you aiming to solve? (100 words)

To reduce single-use plastics by requiring restaurants to provide plastic straws, cup lids and utensils to patrons by request only. Take-out food is often eaten at home where there are utensils.

Tell us more about your climate strategy or solution (500 words)

The overall goal is to reduce single-use plastic. When drinking from a paper cup on the premises of restaurant a straw and lid is unnecessary. Nation-wide 500 million single-use plastic straws are discarded each day. Sunnyvale has successfully reduced the use of plastic bags at stores by charging money and this is just another step. Malibu is banning plastic straws altogether in their town. ( . There is a huge trend for delivery of restaurant food with our busy residents and businesses in Sunnyvale. Walk in to any restaurant and see all the to-go bags. Each very likely contain a stack of paper napkins, the customers already have, unnecessary straws, and plastic utensils the residents likely toss because their own flatware is way more functional. All these items end up in our landfill without having ever been used.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (100 words)

Sunnyvale has been noted as a progressive city. Reducing plastics and waste can make us a cleaner more eco-friendly town with a much smaller carbon footprint.

Explain how your idea would be implemented in Sunnyvale (700 words)

Sunnyvale can work with restauranteurs to encourage them to ask patrons before the plastic items are tossed in the to go bag if they need them. We could provide fast-food eateries with a simple sticker located near the check-out that encourages them to forgo the lids and straws to drinks consumed in the restaurant and let them know utensils are only given upon request. Restaurants could also have a collection site for unopened, unused utensils/straws that are in their original sealed state.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (250 words)

Getting our residents more aware of the unnecessary waste and damage single use plastics has on our environment would be very much impactful to not only our community, but our residents and business people would carry that mentality on to other communities they visit when they refuse the plastics they don't really need. It would also help with beautification as many of these plastics end up as trash on our roads and in our neighborhoods. Restauranteurs would also incur a cost savings by reducing their expenditures on the plastics.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of people affected. (250 words)

If we reach teens who are large consumers of take-out food and also are those growing up with more eco-awarness than other generations this would be a great place to start. We could also have some examples/displays of the volume of plastics our city alone consumes at the State of the City or Art and Wine that would be a good place to reach more people too. Sometimes a visual is most impactful.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (500 words)

This is a very simple idea with very little cost involved. No special equipment, etc. A campaign of sorts within the city and schools and getting word to restaurants this is a necessary thing. Maybe highlight a restaurant that can prove their purchases of these items have significantly gone down in volume over the course of a year.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (300 words)

Rotary could help spread the word. High school service clubs could. Stickers to be made for fast-food restaurants.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with our partners?

  • No, please do not share my contact information

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. From a range of 1-5, how interested/compelled are you to bring this idea into your own life or into the city?

1 - Not Interested - 20%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 0%

5 - Very interested - 80%

2. From a range of 1-5, does this idea provide benefits aside from reducing carbon emissions?

1 - Low co-benefits - 20%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 20%

5 - High co-benefits - 60%

3. From a scale of 1-5, what do you feel is the feasibility of this idea to work well in Sunnyvale?

1 - Not feasible - 20%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 20%

5 - Very feasible - 60%

4. From a range of 1-5, what is your hunch about how much this idea will cost the Sunnyvale community to implement properly?

1 - High cost to the community - 20%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 0%

5 - Low cost to the community - 80%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Java Jive

Wonderful idea! I think we can do it!
Perhaps the city of Sunnyvale can start the initiative of producing biodegradable plastic products look alike. I meant those plastic like take out containers made out of cassave or banana stems. Please check out the success story of the 2 sisters who started Bye Bye Plastic Bags. They managed to ban single use of plastic bags on the touristy island of Bali, Indonesia. The sisters’ next project is to manufacture plant based plastic-like take out containers and utensils.

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