New city ordinance has restaurants going green

New rules go into effect Thursday requiring restaurants, coffee shops, food courts and cafeterias in Seattle to serve one-time use foods in compostable or recyclable containers.

Drew Greer, owner of Ballard Brothers Seafood and Burgers says this ordinance is a move in the right direction. “I wholeheartedly believe that the new city requirements are fair and Ballard Brothers packaging systems provide the duplicatable model for all the fast food chains that operate in the city,” Greer says, “We proved the system was doable two years ago and have perfected in over the last two years.” The restaurant has been using compostable packaging and utensils for two years. “It’s just good business and follows Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers tenets of using only wild sustainable seafood, conserving resources and buying the best quality products with the least negative impact on our environment,” Greer says.

“By offering their customers recycling and composting choices, Seattle restaurants will help prevent up to 6,000 tons of food service ware and leftover food from being sent to the landfill every year,” says Tim Croll the Solid Waste Director at Seattle Public Utilities. “That’s the equivalent of a garbage train more than 100 cars long that will just disappear.”

Greer says that in the time he’s been participating in the Cedar Grove composting program, two-thirds of the waste produced at the restaurant has been diverted from the landfill.

The new rules mean that napkins, paper bags, wooden stir sticks and other take-away containers can go into compost bins. According to Seattle Public Utilities, hot and cold beverage cups and lids will now go into recycling containers instead the trash. The food establishment must provide the appropriate container for disposal. There are a few exceptions until July 1, 2011, including utensils, straws, small portion cups, and foil faced, insulated wrap.

The biggest hurdle for Greer is working with the customer. “Most of the time it is about reeducating our customers to understand that all their waste from the table once they are done eating goes in the green bins, except the plastic red baskets and plastic beverage cups that get washed in our dishwasher,” he says.

Seattle is the first city in North America to require single-use food service packaging be either compostable or recyclable. Issaquah will implement similar rules next year. More information on the ordinance can be found here.


31
Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Walker
Guest
Walker

At RoRo BBQ on Stone they use compostable items for just about everything. I know this because they told me as well as every single person who ordered ahead and behind me. They made this effort despite being super busy. And they did it all with a sense of humor. Fabulous! It totally affected the good will I feel towards them.

I’ve eaten at Ballard Bros several times in the past 2 years. I have never been told about their compostable items. But then they’ve never said much to me at beyond the “what would you like” exchange sans any personality.

Atlas
Guest
Atlas

How long ’til they make us eat out of our hands?

liberalquietscan
Guest
liberalquietscan

Don’t worry, Atlas. They will pass the cost of the compostable food service items onto the consumers. It gives the businesses the marketing push for being green, when the consumer pays for it all anyway. Now, who said Seattle wasn’t business friendly?

jose
Guest
jose

I am all for composting and recycling on a voluntary basis. The government does not need to be involved!!!

AT
Guest
AT

Liberalquietscan, get over it. We elected the officials who are pushing this through. We give them our money for government-funded programs, so we’d be paying for it even if the government handed money to the businesses to implement this action. If you have issues with paying a bit extra to reduce landfill waste, you can always eat at home, where you can reuse your dishes for the cost of washing them.

Sometimes you just have to deal with the right choice costing more, and my guess is that you won’t even notice the price difference at most restaurants. And frankly, moves like this are the only way to get some (inter)national chains to change for the better. Kudos to all the local places that do it voluntarily though!

gurple
Guest
gurple

This law is completely and totally unfair!!!!!

It gives an unfair advantage to businesses that are awesome, and penalizes businesses that are waste-spewing monsters sucking the lifeblood from the planet, by forcing them to become reasonable citizens of the world!

I want the 1950s back!!!!

Louise
Guest
Louise

Great coverage of a super local business. They have the best salmon sandwiches!

liberalquietscan
Guest
liberalquietscan

Businesses pass the cost of compostable products, which are more expensive, onto the consumer. This causes prices to increase to buyers. Small cost increases like this cause food to become less affordable. This causes an expensive market like Ballard to become even more unaffordable to people that wish to remain here as longtime residents. I agree that composting is the right thing to do. I make a point to do it everyday. That is because I have a good stable well-paying job that affords me time to be concerned with these things. To those on the edge or struggling financially, composting is not an issue. Feeding their family is the issue. Small increases everywhere add-up for families like this. Improving one area to hurt another is not the right approach either.

Cosmo
Guest
Cosmo

Doesn’t the cost savings from having significantly less garbage waste exceed the cost of compostable containers? Especially in a restaurant which probably the bulk of its trash (which it must pay for disposal) would have been food waste previously. Do the businesses have to pay for the composte waste, or is that free or reduced cost (since Cedar Grove is making use of it)?

At our house, now with compost and recycling, we probably only throw 1/3 or less of all waste in the trash can. Which definitely saves money.

Being environmental (saving resources) and economical (saving money) can go hand in hand you know, especially when you think long term.

gurple
Guest
gurple

@liberalquietscan: you could use that exact same argument to dig in and resist any changes that will lessen the impact of global warming but have some economic cost attached.

At some point, we have to stop putting off paying the piper. The poorest among us are going to be the worst off when climate change really starts to effect the economy.

The answer isn’t to avoid enacting things like this law because of their potential impact on the poor. The answer is to enact these things and also to make sure that the poorest have a safety net, and to reduce income disparity.

Atlas
Guest
Atlas

“The answer is to enact these things and also to make sure that the poorest have a safety net, and to reduce income disparity.”

So screw us at both ends. Great model.

Plasticbags
Guest
Plasticbags

There are other situations were a “green” law unfairly taxes the poor. This isn’t one of them. If you are barely able to afford to feed your family then what are you doing depending on take out? Even a middle class family is going to feel a financial pinch relying on take out food rather than buying groceries- with or without this new law.

Mondoman
Guest
Mondoman

I think Cosmo’s on the right track. It has been claimed that recycling and composting cost less than disposal in a landfill. If that’s true, then implementing this law should reduce the cost of waste disposal, and thus reduce the cost of waste collection to the end use. IIRC, though, waste disposal costs have been jacked up, not reduced. It would be nice to see actual numbers.
From a functional standpoint, the current substitutes for the classic styrofoam clamshell don’t work nearly as well to keep hot food hot. I’d be willing to pay a small “eco-fee” for such takeout containers instead of having this blanket ban. Then again, maybe we just need some more R&D to get compostable foam containers that perform like styrofoam.

Mondoman
Guest
Mondoman

As a side note, we have ridiculously large areas of land that could be used for landfills, so we’re not in any physical danger of running out of landfill space for at least some thousands of years yet. Thus, “conserving” landfill space should be purely a cost issue.

edot
Guest
edot

meh, i don’t really want to paw through my fast food garbage like a raccoon to sort stuff, so whatever, this will be easier.

Whoopee Goodbar
Guest
Whoopee Goodbar

Waste of time; I’ll just throw it all in the trash anyway. I have no time to waste sorting garbage.

If they want to pay someone to sort it later fine.

Want to really do something for the environment? Make your home from only dead wood. Build fires from dead wood. Eat only what you grow or can catch and kill with your bare hands. Use leaves or the skin of animals you have killed and eaten for clothes. Do this and then I may take your environmentalism seriously. Otherwise to most it is just the latest fad.

bleeding heart
Guest
bleeding heart

“As a side note, we have ridiculously large areas of land that could be used for landfills, so we’re not in any danger of running out of landfill space for at least some thousands of years yet. Thus, “conserving” landfill space should be purely a cost issue.” By all means, use all the extra ridiculously large areas available to make more landfills. I believe it’s usually called “habitat” or “natural areas”. And by all means, let us continue to consume natural resources at minimum cost to us. After all, we adult individuals who are now purchasing and voting will not bear the cost to the environment (which supports our style of living). That cost will be absorbed by our children. You may or may not have kids, but I do. And I don’t only feel duty toward them, but to the entire next generation, including your kids if you have them. As an individual, I will gladly bear the additional cost of living as ethically as possible in the hope to tread more lightly on the earth, in the interest of your kids and mine. You may think it’s stupid, that it’s not worth the effort. You may think we’re… Read more »

The Norwegian
Guest
The Norwegian

Do this, do that, can’t YOU read the sign. I had nothing to do with selecting the nanny state fools. The more government does for you, the more it does to you. “The more a government grows the less freedom we all have”. Jefferson. Why is it progressives assume we’re all too stupid to know what to do with our lives?

SPG
Guest
SPG

libertariantroll scrawled: ” They will pass the cost of the compostable food service items onto the consumers.”

Which is fine with me. The consumer should be responsible for the cost of the wastestream that they generate. Prior to this we were all paying for the larger cost of landfill which generates no return down the line. Now, just the customers of the business will pay for compostable containers (IF they cost more, which they won’t when every business uses them) and in the end the rest of us will pay less for landfill and the compostable containers will return as compost for growing more food instead of taking up space in a landfill.
Win-win-win.

Mondoman
Guest
Mondoman

BH – Good news! There’s even plenty of potential landfill space that’s not “habitat” or “natural areas”. Here are a few win-win examples: old quarry sites, old factory sites, old smelter sites — you get the picture. One nice thing about such sites is that they typically already have good rail/transport connections.

As for the idea that “…our cost of living is as low as it is because we steal the future away from others, in the present and in the future,” I think it’s rather because of our cumulative technological knowledge and the ways we’ve developed to structure society. For example, that’s why Hong Kong, with essentially no physical resources, did so well during the 2nd half of the 20th century while next-door resource-rich China stagnated.

I find it helpful not to rely too much on my own guesses about what our descendants 100 years from now will find important. Not much more than 100 years ago, artificial lighting was threatened by a drastic shortage of whale oil, and cities were plagued by ever-increasing street volumes of horse manure. Not many worry about those issues today.

Mondoman
Guest
Mondoman

Just wanted to add that you’re spot on about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good — even a small effort makes a difference.

Whoopee Goodbar
Guest
Whoopee Goodbar

Places start raising their prices too much and they’ll be going out of business fast. Thanks to Western agricultural techniques and the use of chemistry food production is up and food is cheap. Places start raising prices folks will go elsewhere. . . . a five minute drive for a cheaper burger that tastes just as fine. I suspect this little nanny law may tip a few struggling places over into closure.

SPG
Guest
SPG

“…food production is up and food is cheap.”

The number of tainted food cases is also up.
The amount of empty calories from food science is up.
The rate of obesity is waaay up.

Mondoman
Guest
Mondoman

Not sure what you mean by “empty” calories (a calorie is a calorie is a calorie), but tainted food cases are way down in the last 100 years (didn’t Upton Sinclair become famous by writing about the meat processing industry in early 20th century Chicago?).
Obesity IS way up, but that’s just because we never do any exercise. Of course, THAT’s clearly because of the evil conspiracy against the missing link. Maybe we need Dan Brown to come to Ballard and expose it all Da Vinci Code-style.

Methuselah
Guest
Methuselah

Atlas, etc., think thought what you’re saying.

You ALREADY pay for landfill space, through your municipal taxes, so every pound o trash diverted from a landfill is another pound you don’t have to pay for.

Of course businesses will pass additional costs onto the consumer. They already did that when gas prices skyrocketed to record highs in 2008, when there was no supply disruption. Every bit of packaging derived from petroleum went up in price, too, and that cost was passed on to you, as well.

Think it through, people. Although change is scary, your criticisms defy common sense.