Reduce Single-Use

Single-Use Report Reduction

Learn about our Single-Use Foodware Reduction Working Group in our other tab!

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.

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.

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

Keep Truckee Green staff gathered public feedback from business workshops, surveys, and a community workshop in 2019.

After careful consideration of the complexities of the recycling options, studying best practices from other communities, and factoring in the public feedback, staff drafted the following policy recommendations, which were discussed at the town council’s meeting on February 11, 2020:

  1. Provide single-use straws, utensils, and accessory items upon request only.
  2. Provide only reusable food-ware items for in-house dining. Exceptions would need to be made for restaurants without dishwashers.
  3. Require restaurants to charge a fee on cups, utensils or accessory items. Studies show that the most effective fee price to drive behavior change is 25 cents.

Council directed staff to create a working group to move forward with single-use reduction policies. However, the single-use ordinance drafting has been put on hold during the COVID-19 crisis. Town of Truckee staff will resume this work once businesses are able to participate in this conversation.

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.

Single-Use Foodware Reduction Working Group

Members of the public: Take the Community Survey Here

For Restaurants: Take the Food-Related Business Survey Here

For Retail stores: Take the Retail Polystyrene Ban Survey Here

The Single-Use Foodware Reduction Working Group has come up with three policy recommendations which we are seeking your feedback on. The recommendations and your feedback will be presented to the Truckee Town Council at the August 9th Council Meeting. Surveys are open through July 26.

Working Group Recommendations:

  1. Ban the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Stryrofoam)
  2. Require reusable foodware for in-house dining
  3. Require businesses to charge a fee on disposable foodware items, and require a discount for customers who bring their own reusable takeout food container.

Your home base to stay up-to-date with the Town of Truckee’s prospective Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance!

How does this process work?

At the February 11, 2020 Town Council Meeting, Keep Truckee Green staff presented their recommendations for a future Single-Use Foodware Reduction Ordinance. Town Council directed Keep Truckee Green staff to form a working group to evaluate staff recommendations, and to put together an implementation plan for the ordinance. The working group will meet six times in 2022 to formulate recommendations to Council for the prospective ordinance.

All past and future meeting details are publicized on the Town of Truckee’s official calendar at https://www.townoftruckee.com/living/event-calendar.

What are the staff recommendations?

Policies the working group will be considering include:

  1. Ban on expanded polystyrene foodware items
  2. Require restaurants to provide reusable foodware for in-house dining
  3. Require restaurants to charge a fee on cups, utensils or other single-use accessory items

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

Next Steps:

Following the conclusion of the working group, staff will seek community feedback on the group’s recommendations. Community and business surveys will be distributed to gather input from the community at-large. Then, in late summer 2022, policies and community feedback will be brought to the Town Council for consideration.

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!