Truckee eyes single-use foodware regulations
The Town of Truckee is looking to adopt regulations to reduce single-use foodware items.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is reduce the amount of waste that we’re generating in the first place,” said Erica Mertens of Keep Truckee Green.
Regulations could require restaurants to provide single-use items only upon request, or require them to charge a fee on single use items. A 10- or 25-cent fee would be kept by businesses and invested into a reusable foodware, according to a staff report. While a fee has the potential to provide the most significant reduction in single-use items, Mertens said it was not largely supported by local businesses.
To develop an ordinance, town staff held workshops and reached out to Truckee businesses.
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“We heard from businesses that they are already trying their best to make sustainable choices,” said Melanie Conti, administrative technician with the Truckee’s recycling department. “They’re already taking major voluntary measures to reduce their impact.”
According to a survey they sent out to businesses, 17% of businesses provide a discount for customers who bring their own container, 57% provide straws upon request and 90% don’t use Styrofoam.
Conti said some businesses expressed concern over any ordinance that places fees on disposable foodware, as it may deter business.
“Having customers pay for single use items may turn them away,” she said.
They also heard that requiring foodware upon request would require additional staff time and get in the way of the flow of business. Additionally a reusable dish ware would add labor cost because it requires a dishwasher.
“These are all very valid concerns,” said Conti.
The town currently has a composting and recycling program in place, but these are not reliable outlets for disposable foodware, according to Melanie Conti, administrative technician with the Truckee’s recycling department.
Due to the recycling markets the town can only recycle plastics grades 1 and 2 while single use items are grades 5 and 6. If the items did meet the guidelines it would need to be completely free of food waste or contamination to be accepted.
Though compostable foodWare items have gained popularity, Conti said local composters as well as most across the country won’t accept them as bioplastics require very high temperatures and a long period of time to break down.
“Most single-use foodware is sent to a landfill,” she said. “Since we don’t have great single use options there are major impacts coming from the production and disposal of single use foodware.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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