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Posted on: September 21, 2023

Reusable Foodware Ordinance

A collection of reusable foodware accessories with the words "Say No to Single Use"


On November 10, 2023 enforcement of the Reusable Foodware Ordinance which was adopted by the City of Mill Valley in April 2023 will begin. The ordinance was introduced to address community concerns of reducing consumed disposable items and lowering green house gas emissions. 

The ordinance requires the use of reusable and compostable foodware materials such as plates, bowls, cups, utensils, and trays at restaurants, grocery stores, delis, bakeries, carry-out vendors, minimarts, farmers markets, food trucks, and other food outlets. Should foodware or foodware accessories made of compliant compostable natural fiber not be commercially available, as determined by the EHS Director or their designee, the County may approve a temporary exemption of specific nonreusable foodware or foodware accessories items until they are made commercially available.

Under current rules, only a limited amount of synthetic material can be composted in Marin; the rest goes into landfills. The county’s largest waste product processor, the WM EarthCare Compost Facility at the Redwood Landfill & Recycling Center north of Novato, does not accept many commonly labeled compostable materials such as bioplastics. Also, franchised refuse companies around Marin accept slightly different materials for recycling, composting, or hazardous waste disposal and have different strategies for outreach to the community. 

Another important part of this ordinance is a $0.25 surcharge for disposal cups which is kept by the business to help in their sustainability efforts and will act as an incentive for customers to bring their own reusable.  

More details can be found on the County of Marin website and be sure to check out this helpful visual guide that summarizes the ordinance

Bring Your Own

The ordinance uses the hierarchy of: reusables are best, compostable fiber foodware is compliant, and single-use plastics are prohibited. By bringing your own reusable foodware accessories you reduce waste and will not have to pay the cup surcharge. 

Some reusables that are safe to bring include: Reusable mugs, utensils, containers, and bags from customers are safe and allowed by health code.

Acceptable containers must be:

- Empty 

- Pre-cleaned and dry

- Big enough to contain all of your food and drink 

- Safe and suitable for the food you order                                                                                                 

Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to take this sustainability action! 

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