The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen the U.S. Virgin Islands (VI) to receive nearly $700,000 in funding under EPA’s Environmental Justice in Communities program to assist restaurants, bars, food trucks and other food service companies to cut waste. The funding will help develop and adopt practices that prevent pollution and will be implemented by the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (VIDPNR), the Virgin Islands Conservation Society, and EPIC.
VIDPNR is the direct recipient of the funding and is one of 24 across the country that were selected to collectively receive nearly $16 million in pollution prevention grants through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The funding goes to the existing VI Clean Coasts program, which focuses on significantly reducing the use and disposal of single-use plastics, polystyrene, and other pollution through site visits that help businesses develop source reduction plans that can also help save time and money. In addition, the project also engages stakeholders, gathers community input, and conducts research about tourism and food service pollution prevention techniques. The overarching goal of the project is to reduce people’s exposure to harmful chemicals and waste, especially in historically marginalized, underserved, and overburdened communities across the Virgin Islands.
EPIC Executive Director Tabitha Stadler assisted with the crafting of the project, the writing of the proposal, and organizing the local team to capture ideas and ultimately create a project that was most beneficial to the local community. “This funding will give a tremendous boost to the Clean Coasts Program in the Virgin Islands which was already successful due to the hard work of DPNR and VICS” said Stadler when asked about the significant award from EPA. “EPIC is proud to be part of this dynamic team of conservationists and we look forward to making these tools available to a broader sector of the community while significantly reducing waste and pollution.”
Ensuring greater availability and use of safer and more sustainable products is important to reduce harmful chemical exposures and human health and environmental impacts in disadvantaged communities and create a more regenerative and accessible marketplace. These efforts benefit businesses and communities across the nation by capturing what works and what can be adjusted in other communities because lessons are shared so businesses and communities continue to innovate.
“This funding will go towards improving the resiliency and infrastructure of our community, enabling us to take a proactive approach towards pollution prevention” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett in an EPA press release. “EPA’s Pollution Prevention Grant Program is part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.”