Palm Springs moves forward with new food ware and plastic waste reduction ordinance

Taylor Martinez & the City of Palm Springs

The Palm Springs City Council unanimously voted to move forward with a new ordinance designed to promote reusable food ware and reduce waste from single-use plastics.

The draft ordinance includes a variety of features that will be refined and re-presented to Council in June. The draft included an implementation date of Jan.1, 2022, so the City can conduct outreach and provide technical assistance while businesses transition to these  new requirements. 

The new ordinance will affect “prepared food vendors” that range from coffee shops and food-vending convenience stores to formal, sit-down restaurants. It includes provisions for on-site dining as well as takeout food.

Specifically, the draft ordinance includes the  following: 

— A broad ban on the sale and use of polystyrene food ware – in foam and rigid forms.  This will also affect retailers.

— A requirement that reusable food ware and accessories be used for on-site dining. There is an allowance for items such as paper or foil wraps, paper napkins, and tray liners.

— A ban on petroleum-based plastic straws.  

— A requirement that food ware accessories be available only on request or in a self service area to minimize distribution of unwanted items.

— A ban on the use of single-use plastic bags for takeout orders.  

— A mandate for food vendors to allow the use of reusable food ware consistent with  the California Food Retail Code.

— A restriction that food ware must be free of fluorinated chemicals – a “forever chemical” found in many paper products to resist grease and moisture.

In addition, the City Council requested more information on a proposed charge for disposable food ware, asked staff to consider requiring that any disposable food ware be recyclable or compostable, and requested staff review the waivers and exceptions to ensure that they were sufficiently clear.  

“The City of Palm Springs is excited to work with our local businesses to implement this new policy and advance environmental protection forward in the Coachella Valley,” said Sustainability Manager Patrick Tallarico.

The staff report and draft ordinance can be found on the City’s Sustainability web page at www.yoursustainablecity.com

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