Reducing Single-Use Foodware Accessories and Using Reusables

The State of California (AB 1276) now requires all retail food facilities and food delivery platforms to provide single-use foodware items upon request only. This law was established to help reduce the amount of waste generated by single-use items and to encourage consumers to choose reusables. AB 1276 does not apply to school cafeterias, residential and health care facilities, and correctional facilities. Minimizing the use of single-use foodware items can help businesses reduce costs and waste. These items contaminate recycling and pollute streets and waterways in our communities. California Assembly Bill (AB) 1276 As of January 1, 2022, the ‘Straws on Request Only’ law and the Public Resource Code is expanded to include additional single-use foodware accessories. ​The retail food industry and food delivery platforms are required to:​​
  1.  Only provide single-use accessories to customers upon request
  2.  Single-use foodware cannot be bundled or packaged in a way that prohibits the customer from taking only the item desired
Single-use foodware accessories can be offered to drive-thru customers and within airports.  Download the RecycleSmart AB 1276 fact sheet Purchasing Food Service Ware Making good choices when purchasing food service ware products can be complicated. Not all food ware marketed as “compostable” or “biodegradable” gets composted at commercial composting facilities. Many factors play a role, including the ability to distinguish compostable and non-compostable food ware, and the food ware item’s ability to break down within the composting process.  Many products—even if certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI)*—may decompose only partially or not at all, and be sifted out and landfilled. The materials listed below are examples of preferred foodware materials that can be purchased and recycled or composted after use. 
  • Uncoated paper (can be composted in the green organics cart) 
  • Durable, recyclable plastic #1-#7 (can be reused or recycled in the blue recycling cart) 
  • Clean foil (can be recycled in the blue recycling cart)  
  • Reusable (can be reused again and again!) 
And remember, all ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ plastic foodware items must go in the black landfill cart.  Choose Reusable  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steep increase in the use of disposable foodware. The Contra Costa Department of Environmental Health, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allows the use of reusable foodware when properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. RecycleSmart encourages the use of reusables to reduce waste, litter and cost.  Providing Reusables for On-site Dining is Allowed
  • For both indoor or outdoor dining, reusable dishes, cups, and utensils are safe for workers and customers as long as they’re properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. 
  • Items shared between customers such as menus, bread baskets and condiment bottles must be disinfected between parties. 
California State Law AB 619: Consumer-Provided Reusables AB 619 allows consumers to bring their own clean, reusable food and beverage containers for takeout orders and leftovers. Following all sanitary guidelines, reusable containers can be filled by food facility staff or the consumer.  
Restaurants and other food facilities in the RecycleSmart service area can email to request a FREE 4x6" acrylic sign.
AB 1276 includes utensils (forks, knives, spoons, and sporks), chopsticks, condiment cups and packets, straws, stirrers, splash sticks and cocktail sticks (including compostable items).
AB 619: Reusable mugs, utensils and containers brought from consumers for takeout orders and leftovers are allowed under state law.

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