City to Consider Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance

(From Press Release) – With the implementation of the organics program in July 2016, most waste items are either accepted for recycling or composting through Davis Waste Removal (DWR) collection services. The City is now eyeing some remaining items that are not recyclable or compostable.

In order to further reduce waste, the Davis City Council will be considering an ordinance to ban polystyrene foam (a.k.a. “Styrofoam”) from being used for serving food and beverages in Davis. The ordinance will require all items for serving food or beverages to either be reusable, recyclable or compostable. This item is tentatively scheduled to be reviewed at their regular meeting on April 18.

Polystyrene foam food and beverage packaging is not recyclable. Under the current city recycling program, all other single-use food packaging items are accepted as either recyclable or compostable.

Paper take-out coffee cups, paper plates, paper fries cups, and paper clamshells are all accepted for composting in the DWR recycling carts. Plastic disposable coffee cup lids, plastic straws, plastic utensils and all non-foam plastic cups are accepted for recycling in the DWR recycling carts.

Today, there are economical, compostable, recyclable and easily attainable alternatives to polystyrene foam,” says Mayor Robb Davis. “These products can be composted (or recycled or reused), and can, therefore, be removed from the waste stream.  Because all food service businesses in Davis are part of our City-wide composting and recycling program, switching to them should be straightforward and enable us to divert a greater proportion of waste products from the landfill.”

This proposed ordinance would apply to any store, restaurant, delicatessen, catering vehicle, school, non-profit group or any other organization, group or individual which regularly provides food for public consumption on or off its premises.  The proposed ordinance would include plates, cups, bowls, take-out food clamshells and other products used to serve food or beverages.

The Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) Board reviewed the draft ordinance in February 2015 and largely supported the idea of banning polystyrene foam take-out containers. “Our main concern at the time was the requirement in the ordinance for recyclable or compostable alternatives,” says Stewart Savage, Executive Director of the DDBA. “At the time, not everyone had access to composting services, but that has changed. Now all businesses and residents have both recycling and organics carts so they can divert these items from the landfill.”

The City of Davis is holding two stakeholder workshops, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. in the City Hall Conference Room, 23 Russell Blvd., and March 30 at 3:30 p.m. in the Hunt Boyer Building Conference Room, 604 2nd St., for businesses to discuss the proposed ordinance, ask questions, and provide input before this proposed ordinance goes to City Council.

Draft Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance

Key points of the draft ordinance:

  • Starting July 1, 2015*:
    • Restaurants and any business or non-profit that provides food may not use polystyrene foam (aka: Styrofoam®) food service ware (bowls, cups, plates, etc.)
    • Expanded polystyrene may not be used at any City facility.
  • Starting January 2016*, restaurants and businesses that provide food on disposable plates, cups bowls, etc. must use either recyclable or compostable (ASTM certified) products.
  • Starting July 1, 2016*, non-profits that provide food on disposable plates, cups bowls, etc. must use either recyclable or compostable (ASTM certified) products.

*The dates shown above are dependent on when/if City Council adopts the ordinance.  If the adoption date is too close to the implementation dates, these dates will be pushed back

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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