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Rosemary Eshelman stands with Bret Schanzenbach in a room at Legoland during sustainability event
Rosemary Eshelman, left, of the Carlsbad Unified School District and Bret Schanzenbach of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, take part in a business sustainability event at Legoland on Feb. 12 organized by Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Sustainability event aims to bring business, environment together

CARLSBAD — In response to the hot-button issue of single-use plastics locally and globally, Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel spearheaded a business sustainability event at Legoland on Feb. 12

Dozens of countries have banned single-use plastic bags, while eight states in the U.S. have legislated against the bags, including California in 2016. For cities and counties, though, it is up to those governing bodies whether or not to institute local measures to counter the effects plastics in the environment.

Bhat-Patel said while the issue is important to her, equally important is the impact it would have on businesses, particularly food service, which is why she wants businesses and environmental organizations to find common ground.

She recruited Legoland as a co-host for the event along with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and city to help solicit North County businesses to attend.

“Last year, there were environmental organizations who were asking for a single-use plastics ordinance,” Bhat-Patel said about a council meeting in 2019. “The whole point for me was to start the conversation and figure out what the best way forward is, what is a compromising solution and at the same time, making sure it’s a business-friendly way of doing it.”

The event showcased about 20 businesses from various industries such as Legoland and its eco-friendly drives, Rubbermaid and local entities such as Zero Waste Kit, reVessel, both of Encinitas, Carlsbad-based Lotus Trolley Bag and nonprofits Surfrider Foundation, Clean Earth 4 Kids, and Shore Sweep, to name a few.

Eduardo Moya, head of hotels for the park for Merlin Entertainment, which owns and operates the parks worldwide, has been pushing toward more sustainable options for years. Recently, the hotels ditched single-use shampoo and conditioner bottles for dispensers, plus an aggressive recycling program and using biodegradable materials in the restaurants, he added.

In addition, Legoland California has a green committee, which conducts outreach and community service projects such as beach cleanups and other initiatives, Moya added. He also said the event was a way to share best practices.

“For us, sustainability and protecting the environment is really important. It’s a big part of our business,” Moya said. “We do as much as we can to avoid single-use plastic and so we have lots of small wares we wash and reuse.”

As for the event, Bhat-Patel said it was an opportunity for small or medium-sized businesses to connect with others who’ve already gone down the sustainable path. One reason, she added, is to help with the logistics and sourcing of those vendors who manufacture eco-friendly products, thus making a transition easier and, perhaps, more cost-effective, especially if several businesses use the same vendor.

For decades the San Diego Convention Center has been at the forefront of sustainable initiatives, said Donald Buttger, director of facility services. One of the convention center’s big initiatives has been waste diversion such as food waste and reallocating unused food to food banks.

The diversion program also includes diverting waste from landfills, water conservation, sourcing food locally and sorting trash streams, Buttger added.

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