Mountain View bans plastic foodware starting 2023

STORY BY NAINA SRIVASTAVA, PHOTO BY ARYA NASIKKAR

Starting 2023, all restaurants in Mountain View will be banned from providing plastic foodware per the city council foodware ordinance.

The council unanimously passed the ordinance on Nov. 9, which requires all restaurants to provide compostable fiber-based or aluminum containers — or opt for reusable options — and bans all plastic, compostable plastic and foam containers. The ban also encompasses accessories such as straws, stirrers and toothpicks that are made or packaged in plastic, with an exception for individuals who need plastic straws for medical reasons.

“I’m hoping that restaurants will see this as a positive thing and will maybe even embrace it earlier than they have to,” said Councilmember Alison Hicks.

Hicks stressed the environmental and health benefits, but also a potential increased customer base for restaurants who choose to adopt policies earlier than required.

According to analyst Erin Brewster, who presented the ordinance to the council, single-use plastics compose two thirds of all litter in the Bay Area; the council aims to combat this issue through the new ordinance. The city is following an “education-first” strategy, administering citations as a last resort and enforcing the ordinance based on complaints.

“The goal is to assist businesses in coming into compliance with the regulations.” Brewster said at the meeting. “This has been a successful approach to enforcing the existing foam foodware regulations and the reusable bag ordinance.”

The ordinance builds on several existing restrictions, including Assembly Bills 1276 and 1200, which limit single-use accessories to only upon-request, and ban food packaging with toxic PFAS, respectively. It also builds on with prior city actions such as the Zero Waste Plan, passed in 2019 in anticipation of Senate Bill 1383.

The ordinance also addresses potential financial concerns, including increased expenses for compostable items.

“After extensive research and comparison, we found that for most foodware types, there are compliance items in a similar price range as non-compliant items,” Brewster said.

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