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.