The new rules would require the use of reusable, compostable and non-bioplastic foodware materials (e.g., plates, bowls, cups, utensils, and trays) at restaurants, grocery stores and delis, bakeries, carry-out, mini marts, farmers markets, food trucks, and other businesses requiring a health permit. The Draft Ordinance, whose primary goal is reducing Marin’s greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of waste going into our landfills, also prohibits the use of single-use plastic foodware items and proposes a 25-cent charge for disposable cups. The food ware ordinance would also span accessories like napkins, cup sleeves, lids, condiments packets, coffee cup spill plugs, stirrers and more.
Six days after that gathering, of course, the world ground to a halt as we confronted the COVID-19 crisis that refuses to relent 18 months later.
So after a long pause by county officials, they began reviving efforts in May to obtain Board of Supervisors' approval for the food ware ordinance, which would span all of unincorporated Marin, and subsequently the approval of each municipality within Marin. After a period of education and outreach to local governments and their respective business communities, they intend to take the ordinance to the Board of Supervisors in the late fall/winter of 2021, according to Claire Wilson of R3 Consulting Group, which is spearheading the ordinance.
If adopted by supervisors, the new regulations would apply to all food-serving businesses within unincorporated Marin, with subsequent approvals required from each municipality’s city council. There is a virtual workshop on this subject for food businesses on Sept. 15, 3-4pm. You can attend that meeting here.
The ordinance would not be enforced until one year after its passage by the supervisors and the respective municipalities throughout Marin, Wilson said.
Thankfully, Mill Valley has already taken strides to address the reusability of some food ware, including the CommUnity Cup, an innovative, community-centered pilot program born right here in Mill Valley that seeks to replace single-use café cups with a lending system of reusable cups for Mill Valley’ans and others to enjoy, as well as Dispatch Goods, which provides businesses with reusable containers for take out and is running a pilot program in Marin. Containers are primarily stainless steel and glass.
A few bit and bites:
- Aluminum is recyclable and is allowed.
- Dine-in foodware must be reusable
- The front and back areas of restaurants, including areas in public gathering spaces like the hot bar at grocery stories, would require 3-stream collection containers - organic, recyclable and trash.
- Coffee cup lids are exempt until there is a product option that is viable and available.
- Similar to the plastic bag fee that has been in effect for years, government officials won't have a say in how the 25-cent fee is implemented, only that there would have to ne an additional charge for the cup itself.
- There are some sensitive issues to grapple with, namely how customers' bringing in their own reusable containers mesh with the health and safety regulations of the county’s Environmental Health Services division. For instance, if a customer brings in a reusable cup or bowl, must business' staff use subjectivity to decide if a cup is clean?
- The county is offering a reimbursement of between $100-$500 for a business that wants to implement the requirements now and receive technical assistance to do so.
As City of Mill Valley Senior Planner and Sustainability Coordinator said at the March 2020 meeting, “You might have thought you were in the food business, but you are also in the waste business.”
Here's a survey on the ordinance for food-serving businesses.
Here's a list of foodware products that would comply with the proposed ordinance:
Click on the images below to see descriptions and larger illustrations of products that are approved and not approved under the proposed ordinance.
QUESTIONS? CLICK HERE TO EMAIL CLAIRE WILSON.