The Delaware River and Bay Authority's ferry's entire food service operation has joined the Surfrider Foundation's Ocean Friendly Restaurants Program
, which seeks to eliminate non-biodegradable materials, plastics, and straws from restaurants in an effort to reduce marine pollution.
"We recently formed a Green Committee at the Ferry with the intention of finding ways to be more eco-friendly and go green," says Shaun O'Brien, superintendent of food and retail operations at the Cape May – Lewes Ferry. "Joining this program was one of the first initiatives of this effort. The Twin Capes resort community has some of the world's greatest beaches and the marine life in the Delaware Bay is particularly vibrant. We need to do our part to make sure future generations can enjoy these treasures."
Lewes Terminal Manager Yelena Kretova says the eco-friendly moves apply to both terminals, the restaurants, and the vessels themselves. Kretova says they ferry is only using reusable tableware now, offering straws by request only, and has swapped all carryout containers from styrofoam to biodegradable materials.
"Now that we are finally implementing all these changes, it's very well received," she tells WRDE. "Everybody is very appreciative that we finally switched."
In addition to mandatory Ocean Friendly program requirements (like eliminating styrofoam), the Ferry's restaurants will offer vegetarian/vegan food options regularly, ensure all seafood be a 'Best Choice' or 'Good Alternative' as defined by Seafood Watch or be certified as sustainable, engage in energy efficiency efforts such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, and will begin implementing water conservation efforts such as low flow faucets and toilets.
Kevin Chandler, the chair of the Delaware Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, says the moves keep plastics out of fish and birds' stomachs, as well as keeps the bay and oceans clean. Chandler hopes the ferry's actions inspire other restaurants to do the same.
"The ferry--it's big. It's dynamic. They are going to be an example," he says. "Some other restaurants I know they are going to follow suit once they kind of see somebody like this [...] able to make it work."
Bob Banach, founder of CleanBeach OC, says he is all for eliminating plastic, but fears it could be at the expense of trees, as some biodegradable products are the products of deforestation.
"I love what Surfrider is trying to do," he says. "I commend their hard work, I only wish they would take it one step further with their Ocean Friendly Restaurant program and that is support truly earth-friendly alternative products."
Lewes Mayor Ted Becker says the ferry's actions are in line with city initiatives as well to protect Lewes' waterways and coastal environment at large.
"The City of Lewes has asked all restaurants and food service operations to eliminate the use of disposable utensils, plastic straws and non-biodegradable containers," says Becker. "The changes implemented by the DRBA food service operations demonstrate a strong commitment to this city wide initiative. We salute the DRBA for their leadership in taking this action as we work together to develop actions to improve the sustainability of the environment."
The Ferry's restaurant operation is also working to serve local, fresh, organic items and ingredients, and has implemented a broad based recycling effort.