Santa Rosa limits disposable food containers

Bay Area

Woman holding paper bag with take out food, home delivery, food order, takeaway

SANTA ROSA (BCN) – Under a new ordinance by the Santa Rosa City Council, restaurants are banned from offering disposable utensils for dine-in customers and can only provide plastic to-go containers and utensils on request.

The council approved the Zero Waste Food Ware Ordinance at a Tuesday meeting and it applies to all businesses within Santa Rosa city limits, including the city itself, starting in January 2022. The ordinance is the first passed as part of the city’s Zero Waste Master Plan, a plan to eventually shift the city to only use materials that can be reused or recycled.

Along with regulating when restaurants can offer disposable utensils, the ordinance also bans food service ware containing fluorinated chemicals or polystyrene foam from being bought or sold in the city and requires all dine-in facilities to offer garbage, recycling and compost containers for customers.

The ordinance will heavily contribute to the Zero Waste Master Plan’s goal to reduce landfill waste from 2.5 pounds per person per day currently to less than one pound per person per day by 2030.

“Single-use plastics are littering our streets, clogging our waterways, and impacting our children’s health,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers said in a statement. “Today, we are taking steps to curb our use and to ensure a safer, healthier, and cleaner Santa Rosa.”

In a 2019 study by the city of Santa Rosa’s Stormwater and Creeks Team, more than 1,000 cubic yards of trash were removed from city storm drains and creek channels.

The Russian River Watershed Association found in 2017 that over 60 percent of litter items collected were single-use plastic items, such as disposable food utensils.

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