Shedd aquarium pushes restaurants to reduce plastic use

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has launched a program encouraging restaurants to reduce the use of plastic.

To take part, restaurants have to commit to study their plastic use and seek alternatives when possible. For example, they could offer to-go plastic cutlery by request. The aquarium will provide training and tips.

Roughly 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year, half of which enters Lake Michigan, according to estimates calculated by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Shedd’s program is supported by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program.


"Through our work at Shedd Aquarium, we know that a catastrophic amount of plastic pollution winds up in our rivers, lakes and oceans and can have devastating impacts on aquatic animals, such as fish and waterfowl, not to mention us humans," said Jaclyn Wegner, the Shedd’s director of conservation action. "Restaurants are important cornerstones and leaders in our communities, and we are eager to work with them to tackle plastic pollution."

Those who have signed on early include the restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and several other restaurants in the Chicago area.

Aquarium officials hope to recruit restaurants from each Chicago neighborhood.