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Posted on: August 3, 2021

Santa Rosa Adopts Zero Waste Food Ware Ordinance

Zero Waste

The Santa Rosa City Council approved a new Zero Waste Food Ware Ordinance at their August 3rd Council meeting to reduce the community’s use and disposal of single-use food ware that contributes to street litter, marine pollution, harm to wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions and waste sent to the landfill. 

Under the new Zero Waste Food Ordinance, which amends the Santa Rosa City code, the following applies within the Santa Rosa City limits:

  • All food service ware containing Polystyrene foam (also known as foam food ware), such as clamshell boxes for take-out food, is prohibited from being sold, procured, distributed or otherwise given away; 
  • All food service ware containing fluorinated chemicals (also known as PFAS), such as grease-resistant molded containers or fast food paper wrappers, are prohibited from being sold, procured, distributed or otherwise given away; 
  • Food service facilities are required to provide plastic food ware accessories (straws, lids, cutlery, stir sticks, to-go condiments, etc.) upon request ONLY; 
  • Food facilities with dine-in accommodations for consumption on the premises may ONLY offer reusable food ware and food ware accessories;
  • Dine-in facilities must provide three bin waste stream containers (garbage, recycling, and organics) for customer use;
  • All City of Santa Rosa-staffed facilities and City-sponsored or permitted events are also required to follow the terms of the ordinance.

The implementation of the food ware ordinance is a central strategy recommendation of the Santa Rosa Zero Waste Master Plan, which was adopted by City Council in January 2020.  Stated goals of the plan are to reduce landfill disposal to less than one pound per person per day of franchised waste by 2030, the City is currently at 2.5 pounds per person per day, and to achieve at least 75-percent diversion of franchised waste from landfill by 2030, the City is currently at 45-percent. 

“We understand the challenges this shift may cause local businesses, however, it is imperative that societal shifts occur to change our rate of consumption and waste,” said Councilmember John Sawyer,  who also serves as City’s representative on the Zero Waste Sonoma Board of Directors. “The Zero Waste Food Ware Ordinance is another step in this direction to help our whole community reduce, recycle, and compost waste more effectively.” 

The Zero Waster Food Ware Ordinance will go into effect beginning January 1, 2022 providing local food service establishments time to prepare for the transition. Businesses that the ordinance would create undue financial hardship or practical difficulty not generally available to other persons in similar circumstances, may apply for a one-time waiver for up to one year, not to exceed January 1, 2023. 

Single-use disposable food ware is contributing to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and environment harming our drinking water and food systems. A total of 80 percent of plastic found in the ocean comes from land-based sources. In 2017, the Russian River Watershed Association found over 60 percent of all the 2,578 litter items collected were single use plastic items. The City of Santa Rosa Stormwater and Creeks Team conducted a study in 2019 that removed 1,031 cubic yards of trash deposited into our storm drain system and active channels of our creeks.

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

Zero Waste Food Ware Ordinance 

Additional information can be found at https://srcity.org/3074/Zero-Waste-Master-Plan 

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