Digesting the Bay Area's New Foodware Ordinances

Reusable wares drastically decrease the amount of waste produced. In case studies around the Bay Area, food service establishments reduced the amount of waste they produced by 1,468 lbs a year for an average savings of $3,285 annually. Reusable wares are also better for the environment, requiring less energy to produce and have a lower impact on air and water pollution levels.

Food service operations focused on reducing waste can make a real difference with a dish delivery service like Dishcraft Daily. Powered by robotics that conserve water and energy, Dishcraft Daily delivers consistently clean, environmentally friendly, reusable dishwares every day to operations throughout the Bay Area.

The Struggle is Real

It’s no secret that many food service facilities across the region struggle with how to dispose of their foodware. Operations without on-site dishwashing often rely on compostable wares for in-office meals, snacks, and beverages. Yet, the vast majority of those wares end up in landfills, and when they make it to the composting facility, it can take months to break down. Recyclable wares also end up in landfills or are too contaminated to recycle; and when they are recycled, the process requires high levels of energy and water use.

As tons of single-use disposable foodwaremakes its way to landfills, the mountain of municipal waste and the problems associated with it, becomes unmanageable. In 2018, some 2.1 billion tons of waste was sent to landfills and the United States alone produces some 267.8 million tons of landfill waste each year (4.51 pounds of waste per person daily). Disposable foodwares and packaging account for 23% of this waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a staggering 39 million tons per year. Much of that ends up in our environment, polluting waters, endangering wildlife, and more. These are not just global or national problems: San Francisco Bay is flooded with 1.3 million pounds of trash annually, and one of the biggest culprits is single-use food packaging.

An Influential Leader in Smart Solutions

The Bay Area is a national influencer in environmental policies, an early adapter whose legislation is later adopted by state, municipal, and city governments. This is why so much attention is focused on our region’s new foodware ordinances. In January 2020, San Francisco’s ban on food service wares made with fluorinated chemicals went into effect, enhancing a 2019 ban on polystyrene foam wares and single-use plastic foodware accessories. These efforts build upon the city’s existing Food Service Ware Waste Reduction Ordinance, which requires vendors, facilities operators and managers to use only recyclable or compostable foodwares and packaging and also bans Styrofoam containers and products.

While San Francisco’s efforts towards achieving zero waste by 2020 are often in the spotlight, other communities are implementing their own initiatives. The County of Santa Clara’s Sustainability Master Plan Framework seeks to activate greater intra-County cooperation and coordination efforts to create a healthier environment for all (presently, individual cities have their own sustainability plans and food ware ordinances in place). For Santa Clara City, sustainability is a key priority; the city has called for an increase in the amount of waste diverted from landfills (from 58% in 2018 to 80% by 2020) as it works towards its own zero waste goal. Part of this effort includes the city’s recent adoption of a foodware ordinance banning polystyrene foam disposable service wares, an effort to minimize the amount of pollutants that find their way into waterways. In San Mateo County, the Board of Supervisors is considering a proposed disposable foodware ordinance eliminating all non-reusable or compostable foodwares and packaging.

Foodware ordinances have proven results. San Francisco, for example, reduced its landfill disposal by 50% since 2003, aided in large part by its 2007 food service ware ordinance. That is real-world change, but the urgent need remains to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. That’s why more companies are exploring how reusable wares can tackle the industry’s waste management issues at its source.

Single use disposable foodware ordinances may sound restrictive but can be an opportunity to implement alternative solutions that make smart use of reusable wares. A dish delivery service like Dishcraft Daily is the savvy answer to cost effective foodware waste reduction, and can help businesses build resiliency while protecting the planet.

For more information on the new or revised food ware and disposable ware ordinances, please see:

San Francisco Food Service Ware Waste Reduction Ordinance Information

San Francisco Food Service Ware Waste Reduction Ordinance Policy

San Francisco Polystyrene Foam and the Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance

San Francisco ban on food service wares made with Flourinated Chemicals

San Francisco Plastic Accessories Ban

San Francisc Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law

Santa Clara Climate Action Plan (2018)

Santa Clara Food Service Ware Ordinance

Proposed San Mateo County Food Service Ware Ordinance

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