Project Update: Marin County | Reusable Foodware Ordinance

We have some exciting project news to share….. and just in time for Earth Day!

Reusable Foodware Ordinance | Marin County

Since October 2019, the R3 team, led by Claire Wilson and Garth Schultz, have been working with Marin County to develop and implement a countywide foodware ordinance. R3 worked closely with the County to develop a comprehensive and innovative approach to foodware policy for the unincorporated County to be used as a county-wide model ordinance. This involved developing an ordinance to promote reusable products, allow for compliant compostable foodware, and disallow single-use plastics in the County.

R3’s work also included extensive community engagement, development of a single-use materials matrix for businesses to refer to as-needed, enforcement protocols once the ordinance is in effect, development of a grant program for businesses, and an enforcement training plan and presentation. With the help of our subconsultant, Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc., our team also prepared public outreach materials and conducted technical assistance to businesses. R3 then presented our expert analysis and findings surrounding funding implementation and ongoing enforcement.

In delightful alignment with Earth Day 2022, this week the Board of Supervisors approved this ordinance unanimously (5-0) and will require businesses to offer to-go food containers made of fiber-based compostable material, as certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute.

Claire Wilson, R3 Project Manager, after the unanimous first approval from the Marin County Board of Supervisors.

Food containers and utensils at dine-in businesses will also be required to be reusable, with exceptions for some items like paper napkins and straws. Businesses will only be allowed to offer foodware accessories like cup sleeves, lids, and stirrers upon request, and those they provide must also be fiber-based compostable products. It is estimated that annually Marin uses 95 million cups, one time and then throws it away – resulting in a large influx of waste. The new ordinance aims to reduce the usage of single-use materials and promote reusable products. Enforcement for the new ordinance won’t come for another 18 months, after a second reading of the ordinance, scheduled for May 10, 2022.

More articles on the big news!