Plastic Bans US

Alameda Considers Ending Disposable Plastic

Alameda officials will take a look at a proposal to ban disposable plastic knives and forks, cup lids and similar items at restaurants.

The proposal comes from StopWaste, a public agency in Alameda County that works with cities, the county, businesses, residents and schools to help curb litter and recycle.

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.

On Tuesday, the Alameda City Council will consider the proposal.

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.

Enforcement would be based on helping affected parties comply with the law, similar to the county’s reusable bag ordinance, rather than through issuing citations that could place a burden on small businesses.

With the waste management authority’s backing and cities’ approval, the rules could roll out next year and would cost about $300,000 annually to enforce.

Oddie said he thinks most businesses would comply with any ordinance by shifting to vendors that provide environmentally friendly products.

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda.



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Alameda to consider ending disposable plastic in restaurants