Let’s Prepare Now for Less Plastic Foodware

The El Cerrito City Council passed the plastic foodware ordinance referred to here on November 2. This article first appeared in the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce November newsletter “Byline“.

Like many other cities in the state seeking to address the challenge of plastic pollution, it is likely El Cerrito will have passed its own new foodware ordinance by the end of this year. The El Cerrito ordinance seeks to prohibit one-use plastic foodware, educate businesses and consumers on compostable foodware that can go into our green waste bins, and encourage reusable foodware items. And for those with disabilities who rely on durable plastic straws, food providers will be required to keep plastic straws in stock for customers who request them.

Local restaurants and food preparers have definitely been through a very difficult time over the last two years with covid-related problems and a resulting shaky economy. The road back to “normalcy” with full crews and service will remain a challenge. And, while the city has been working of a foodware ordinance for some time now, Covid and staff budget cuts have delayed Council action.

Having enough lead time before implementation will be critical. I support and believe our city will be sensitive of this difficult time for our restaurants. We plan to assist food providers by building public awareness and providing training to support a smooth transition.— and the drafted ordinance will not go into effect until July 2022, with enforcement probably not occurring for another year and a half.

Even with this longer implementation lead time, I believe it’s just good business for our restaurants and prepared food providers to begin seeking environmental alternatives NOW to plastic foodware.

Other East Bay cities are moving at a faster pace, and the Governor also recently signed AB 1276, which will prohibit single use foodware accessories and condiments unless requested. But most important, customers themselves are growing increasingly turned off by single use plastic that is thrown away and goes to our landfills. Paying customers want to know they are not contributing to our plastic pollution dilemma.

As the city with the best recycling center in the Bay Area, let’s work over the next two years to also help prevent plastic pollution. With restaurants and other businesses as our partners, we can get there.

For more information or assistance from our city, please go to el-cerrito.org/foodware.

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