On Tuesday, the Alameda City Council will consider a proposal to ban disposable plastic knives and forks, cup lids and similar items at restaurants. Along with mandating reusable food ware at dine-in restaurants, an ordinance, if adopted, could include having items provided with take-out food be compostable. Straws, utensils and condiment cups would be available only on demand. The ordinance also could include having businesses charge customers 25 cents for a single-use drinking cup and up to 50 cents for to-go food packaging.
City Councilman Jim Oddie, who serves on the board of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, which governs StopWaste, put the item on Tuesday’s agenda. The authority is looking for community feedback on the proposal. “I wanted to bring it to my colleagues and get their input,” Oddie said during an interview Thursday. “I don’t think we will be voting on it. But it’s an opportunity for people to weigh in.”
Some 27 food ware ordinances are already in place statewide, including within the city of Alameda, where a law kicked in in July 2018 that requires establishments to provide customers with a drinking straw only on demand. “The primary objective of a food service ware ordinance is to reduce consumption of thesedisposable materials, leading to a reduction in litter, plastic pollution and compost contamination,” Justin Lehrer, a senior management analyst with StopWaste, said in a report. “Single-use food service ware has a short useful life (often only used for minutes), and must be managed and successfully routed to a recycling facility, industrial compost facility or a landfill at considerable expense.”
Reusables are the best option for reducing food packaging waste at the source and shifting away from a disposable culture, Lehrer said. If implemented countywide, the ordinance could affect up to 6,000 businesses, including restaurants, food trucks, catering businesses, prepared food vendors and services provided via DoorDash or other delivery companies, according to StopWaste.