Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance

Truckee Town Council approved a single-use foodware reduction ordinance on November 8, 2022. The ordinance includes:

  1. A ban on the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Stryrofoam) – effective April 1, 2023
  2. Food vendors must provide reusable foodware for customers dining in – effective January 1, 2023
  3. Businesses must charge a $0.25 customer fee on disposable cups and takeout food containers – effective January 1, 2024
  4. Accessory foodware items (utensils, napkins, sauce packets, etc.) should only be provided upon a customer’s request – effective January 1, 2024

Background

The Truckee community has a history of environmental stewardship dating back to when Truckee’s plastic bag ban was enacted in 2014. Environmental groups and student members of Envirolution, EcoAction, and Green Team Clubs began advocating for additional action against waste and litter reduction in 2018. At that time, Truckee Town Council directed staff to explore solutions for our town.

The production and disposal of single-use foodware has major environmental impacts, including street litter, water pollution, wildlife harm, depletion of resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and clean-up and end of life management costs. These products require energy and resources to produce, and are only used once and often end up as litter. In fact, food and beverage packaging comprise approximately one quarter of California’s disposed waste stream annually, according to CalRecycle, and an estimated 67% of street litter, according to the Clean Water Fund. Expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) products are of distinctive concern because they can easily break into small pieces. Even when disposed of properly, expanded polystyrene can easily be picked up by the wind, making it extremely difficult to recover as litter, polluting the environment and waterways.

Community & Business Workshops: A business workshop was held in August 2019 to receive feedback on ideas to reduce the impact of waste. Over 14 food-service business representatives were in attendance. A community workshop was later held in October 2019 where over 65 community members were in attendance and shared community goals surrounding waste reduction.

Single-use Foodware Reduction Working Group: At the February 11, 2020 Town Council Meeting, Keep Truckee Green staff presented recommended policies to include in a Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance. Town Council directed staff to form a working group to evaluate staff recommendations. The Covid pandemic caused a pause in this process, but a working group was later developed and met six times between January – June 2022. The group included three business owners, two members of the public, two students, one environmental advocate, and two Truckee Town Council Members. The group’s goals included to develop equitable and effective policies to reduce excess single-use foodware waste in our community.

Community Survey: Following the working group’s conclusion, staff conducted community outreach on the group’s recommendations. Over 480 survey responses were received providing feedback from community members and businesses. After considering the responses, staff presented the final recommendations and feedback to the Town Council for further consideration.

Policy Goals

The goals for the ordinance developed by Town staff and the working group include to:

  1. Reduce the use of all single-use products
  2. Create a cultural shift towards reusable foodware
  3. Ensure actions are applied equitably

Additional Information

Working Group Meeting Details

1st Meeting – January 4th, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

2nd Meeting – January 31st, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

3rd Meeting – March 7th, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

4th Meeting – April 4th, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

5th Meeting – May 2nd, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

6th Meeting – June 6th, 2022- Meeting Agenda and Documents

Town Council Meeting Details

August 9, 2022 Town Council Staff Report- Working Group Recommendations

October 25, 2022 Town Council Staff Report- Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance First Reading

November 9, 2022 Town Council Staff Report- Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance Second Reading

Reduce Single-Use Resources

Single-Use Report Reduction

Learn about Truckee’s Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance here.

What’s the deal with single-use foodware in Truckee? Single-use items like plastic utensils, coffee cups and straws are part of our everyday lives. After being used once, these items end up in our landfills, environment, streams, lakes, and oceans forever, since plastic does not biodegrade. Community members, student groups, and our town council members have asked for policies to reduce these disposable items in Truckee.

Can’t we just recycle plastic foodware items? Recycling and composting are not reliable outlets for single-use items. Due to recent regulations in China, the ability to recycle materials has significantly been reduced. In Truckee, we can only recycle clean #1 and #2 plastics, paper, metal, and glass. Be sure to rinse out recyclable foodware items before tossing in the blue bin to be sure food residue prevents it from being recycled.

What about those “compostable” utensils and cups? Compostable products made out of corn, sugarcane or other plant-based materials are not necessarily sustainable alternatives. In reality, these types of “compostable” bio-plastics or fibers, are not accepted at most composting facilities, including our own, because they would not break down in this composting environment. Products labeled “compostable,” “biodegradable,” or “bio-based” are sent to the landfill. Plus, these products still require resources, including land, water, and fossil fuels, to produce and are only used once before being thrown away.

41% Materials, 20% Manufacturing, 2% Packaging, 17% Transport, 18% End of Life

Often times we only consider the environmental impacts of disposal — whether items are recycled, composted, or landfilled. But, the impacts from producing and transporting single-use items are actually responsible for a majority of a product’s environmental impact.

We need to always remember the REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE hierarchy. If you must use an item, reusables are always the most environmentally friendly option.

waste management hierarchy

Restaurant Procurement Guide

As a follow up to feedback received during business outreach, we have compiled a procurement guide to help food-related businesses procure takeout items that have a lower environmental impact. There are many factors that decide if a product is more or less environmentally friendly, including, but not limited to the material, weight, and packaging. There is no “best” disposable product, but this guide will help businesses with considerations to make when purchasing disposable products. When possible, reusables are always the better option.

Email signup

If you would like to stay up-to-date on Truckee's sustainability efforts or sign up for trash and recycling pick up day reminders, submit your info here!