Law will allow reusable containers and food ware to be used at temporary events, concerts, fairs, and restaurants
SACRAMENTO — A bill authored by Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to allow the use of reusable food ware at temporary food events like concerts or fairs was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom on July 12.
Assembly Bill 619 will also clarify previous law to make it easier for consumers to bring their own reusable containers to restaurants for food service.
“Having fun at a concert or festival does not have to result in a sea of trash,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “I am grateful Governor Newsom saw the need for this new law that will give event organizers the ability to make greener choices and reduce landfill waste.”
Despite valiant efforts by many temporary event organizers to reduce waste, most single-use food and beverage containers used at these events end up in landfills where they do not decompose and leach toxic chemicals creating public health concerns.
While significant advancements have been made to create recyclable or compostable single-use products, few single-use containers actually are fully recyclable or compostable. Further, outside of a select few municipalities, most localities in California do not have the capacity to recycle plastic food containers, and most localities do not have composting programs.
To solve this problem, further work can be done to create greener single-use products or to advance recycling and composting capabilities. However, the simpler solution is to not create any waste to begin with by allowing event organizers to make greener choices and shifting consumer behavior.
Before AB 619 was signed, California law prohibited the use of reusable food ware at temporary events. AB 619 will remove this restrictive provision and give vendors at temporary events the option to serve food and beverages in multi-use washable containers. This will give food and beverage vendors the ability to save money, protect the environment, respond to shifting consumer preferences, and market their efforts to reduce waste.
Under AB 619, temporary event vendors will be required to meet strict food safety standards and get authorization from local public health enforcement authorities in order to use reusable food ware.
Additionally, the law will clarify a confusing provision in code that was supposed to address when consumers can bring their own containers to restaurants for food service. AB 619 allows consumers to bring reusable containers to be filled but gives clear guidance to restaurants on how to serve food using the container while still ensuring adequate food safety standards are maintained.
The Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition was a sponsor of AB 619.
“Hooray! One small step for solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, one giant leap for paving the way for reusables in California! AB 619 is a crucial step in reducing our reliance on single-use disposable items that plague inland and coastal communities and ecosystems,” said Genevieve Abedon, on behalf of the Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition. “The Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition is pleased to have sponsored this bill and work alongside Assemblymember Chiu and his staff to expand consumer choice, help local businesses and advance California’s longstanding goal of reducing landfill waste and plastic pollution. Thank you Assemblymember Chiu, Governor Newsom, and all of our supporters along the way.”
The law will go into effect January 1, 2020.