Reusable Foodware Ordinance

Compliance

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 greenhouse gas emissions. This ordinance applies to all entities selling prepared food to the public in the City of Mill Valley, including restaurants, grocery stores and delis, bakeries, carry-out, quick services, farmers markets, food trucks, and any other business with a health permit.

Compliance with the ordinance requires entities to:

  • Provide compliant compostable foodware for takeout for all food vendors. 
  • Provide reusable foodware for dine-in. 
  • Implement a $0.25 cup itemized charge for all disposable cups. 
  • Make available foodware accessories, such as straws and sauce packets, only upon request. 
  • Provide clearly labeled, separate waste receptacles for solid waste, recyclables, and organics in both front and back of house. 

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. Make sure to review the list of currently exempt items.

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.

Signage

As part of the ordinance it's important that you have adequate signage with information about the $0.25 cup charge and the transition to compostable foodware. Print and display these signs either near a register or in a front facing window. 

Reusable Foodware / $0.25 Cup Charge Sign English

Reusable Foodware / $0.25 Cup Charge Sign Spanish

If you would like to have laminated signs brought to your business please email gledwith@townoftiburon.org 

Enforcement

The County of Marin’s Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) will implement and enforce the ordinance beginning November 10, 2023.    

EHS’s inspection staff will proactively educate all food vendors on the requirements prior to taking any enforcement action. Additionally, the County has hired Plastic Free Marin to provide free technical assistance for businesses transitioning to reusables and/or compliant materials, upon request. 

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.

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

For customers wishing to bring their own reusable foodware containers for takeout, please contact the restaurant directly as many have different policies. Please note, the Reusable Foodware Ordinance does not require restaurants to accept customer-provided reusables.  

For restaurants and businesses with questions about accepting customer-provided reusables, please contact foodware@marincounty.org.