As the ‘Plastic Free Month’ of July commences, the city of Savannah begins taking viable steps to decrease plastic use and increase overall sustainability.
During a Tuesday, June 29 press conference, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson shared the new Aluminum To-Go Cup Pilot Program which will initiate the city’s switch from the utilization of single-use plastic cups to reusable aluminum to-go cups.
After the city council unanimously passed a resolution to protect Savannah’s nature, waterways and neighborhood streets through management of acceptable single use packaging and products during a May 17 city council regular meeting, the council began devising a plan to reduce items including plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, cups, utensils and most plastic food packaging.
“There are broadly available alternatives for these items,” Johnson stated.
District 4 Alderman Nick Palumbo shares the viability of making the switch to aluminum to-go cups.
“Because they’re alumnium they’re infinitely recyclable and they’re infinitely reusable,” Palumbo said. “They’re stronger than an average aluminum can and they can be hand washed a number of times. We’re hoping that people reuse them so they don’t have to keep getting another cup and another cup and another cup.”
The mayor said that the city will start the process and encourage other businesses to follow suit while offering aid to businesses that may need it.
“We will continue to find ways to encourage and recognize businesses and organizations that commit to reducing their plastic use and help small local, minority and women-owned businesses to move away from single-use plastics and continue to make that switch,” Johnson said.
The district 4 Alderman expresses enthusiasm about the changes.
“They are more expensive than your traditional to-go cups— the flimsy plastic ones— but we want a diverse number of businesses in our downtown zone to help pilot these out and teach other businesses in the city how to get these into the hands of the customers in the best way so we can do better for our environment,” Palumbo said.
Though the aluminum cups are more costly than plastic cups, Mayor Johnson said in the long-run the proposed transition will be more cost-effective.
The Aluminum To-Go Cup Pilot Program is not the only initiative currently taking place to increase sustainability.
Johnson also announced that the ABR Digital Office Solutions is partnering with the city of Savannah to reduce waste.
“A couple of weeks ago we talked about items that could not be recyclable and we would not be able to make the switch because technology was not there. One of those things was printer cartridges,” Johnson said. “That’s when ABR Digital Office Solutions, who manages the city’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands of city printers, heard about our effort and offered us a printer cartridge recycling program.”
The solution comes at no cost to the city.
The city of Savannah invites interested businesses to visit savannahga.gov/FormCenter/Citizen-Feedback-7/City-of-Savannah-Aluminum-TOGO-Cup-Pilot-325 to sign-up for the city’s Aluminum To-Go Cup Pilot Program. This program will help provide aluminum cups to partnering businesses at a discounted rate of $0.15 per cup with the goal of inspiring businesses and consumers to move away from single use plastic to-go cups.