Texas State Aquarium’s Restaurant Receives First “Ocean-Friendly Restaurant” Award in Texas

January 19, 2018

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – The Pepsi Shoreline Grill at the Texas State Aquarium (TSA) has been recognized as an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant (OFR) by the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization. The award, the first of its kind given to any restaurant in Texas, was granted in recognition of the Aquarium restaurant’s commitment to reducing its use of single-use plastics.

The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program was established by the Surfrider Foundation in response to increased plastic pollution in coastal zones and the ocean. Researchers estimate that there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of the plastic in the ocean, with 5 to 13 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year. This plastic, which does not biodegrade, is harming marine ecosystems and wildlife around the world. At the current rate of pollution, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the ocean by 2050. To save the ocean, conservationists and scientists agree the only realistic solution is to stop the production and consumption of plastic at its source. Simply put, people to stop purchasing and using single-use plastic.

The Surfrider Foundation’s OFR program seeks to work towards this solution one customer and one restaurant at the time. The goals of the OFR program are to help reduce plastic waste, eliminate the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, a type of plastic that is typically used for inexpensive, disposable products (cups, plates, “clamshells,” etc.) and to encourage restaurants to use more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. To qualify as an ocean-friendly restaurant, an institution must use no EPS foam, follow proper recycling practices, and use only reusable tableware for onsite dining. No plastic bags can be offered for takeout or to-go orders.

“The Texas Coastal Bend Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is thrilled to have the Texas State Aquarium’s Shoreline Grill as our first official Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant, not only in the Coastal Bend, but in the state of Texas,” said Christie Irps, OFR Coordinator with Surfrider Foundation-TX Coastal Bend “ We are so proud of their leadership in this community by initiating the reduction of single-use plastics in their cafe and educating their patrons on the harmful effects of this trash in our oceans and waterways. Through this program, we hope to encourage more restaurants and cafes to band together with us to significantly decrease the wastefulness of single-use plastics. ”

The Texas State Aquarium has taken several steps in recent years to eliminate the use of single-use plastics on its premises. The Pepsi Shoreline Grill provides guests with straws, eating utensils, and napkins derived from paper and other eco-friendly plant products, and does not serve bottled water, instead serving Boxed Water in BPA-free, biodegradable containers. The Aquarium’s on-site restaurant also encourages the use of reusable drinking cups and provides single-stream recycling containers throughout the Aquarium. In 2017, the Aquarium solidified its commitment to plastic reduction by joining the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), a coalition of 19 top U.S. aquariums that are pledging to shift away from single-use plastic products. TSA also works to stem the tide of plastic pollution through educational programs and displays that teach about the widespread effects of single-use plastic on the ocean. In addition, TSA coordinates beach cleanups several times a year with the Texas General Land Office’s Adopt-A-Beach program.

For its extensive plastic reduction initiatives, the Aquarium was declared as a Platinum Level OFR, meaning it met every mandatory and optional criterion established by the Surfrider Foundation.

Leon Burns, Director of Restaurant Services at the Texas State Aquarium, has been a key contributor to the Aquarium’s plastic reduction initiative. “As a high-profile advocate for sea life and ocean conservation, it was extremely important for us to lead by example in the fight against plastic pollution,” said Burns. “We’re honored to be recognized as an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant by the Surfrider Foundation, and we hope this award helps encourage our guests and other restaurants and businesses to take their own steps towards reducing single-use plastic.”

For more information about the Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Friendly Restaurants, visit go.surfrider.org/OFR. To learn about the Aquarium’s plastic reduction initiative, visit texasstateaquarium.org/conserve/.

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