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Food-waste bin mandate coming to California restaurants

Limited-service operators will be required to collect post-consumer organic waste in 2020

California’s limited-service restaurants next year will be required to offer customers a separate recycling bin to toss organic waste under a new law signed by the governor earlier this month.

Restaurants across the state that generate more than four cubic yards per week of solid waste or eight cubic yards per week of organic waste are already required to separate food waste from the back of the house and arrange for recycling services. But this will be the first time the state will require bins to collect post-consumer food waste and food-soiled paper in the front of the house, alongside solid-waste recycling and trash bins.

Katie Hansen, senior and legislative director for the California Restaurant Association, said the new law, dubbed AB 827, exempts full-service restaurants. Where there is table service, the wait staff likely separates post-consumer food waste at the dishwashing stage.

AB 827 allows for possible exemptions for certain limited-service restaurants on a case-by-case basis, she said. If a restaurant, for example, is located in an historic building without room for additional waste bins, they might make the case for exemption.

The bins will be required by July 1, 2020. The state’s recycling agency has also been tasked with developing signage to help customers know what waste to put in which bin.

The move is part of an ongoing effort to build a better infrastructure for waste reduction. California has a goal of diverting 75% of solid waste from landfills by 2020 through a combination of recycling, composting and reduction.

Hansen said California restaurants should expect to see more regulations impacting waste and packaging next year on both the state and local level. The CRA is working with lawmakers to allow for reasonable timelines as the state infrastructure catches up to waste reduction goals.

“Honestly, I do believe restaurants want to be part of the solution on this issue,” she said. “They’re actively engaged and doing their part. We would like to see some acknowledgment and understanding that we are at the table and participating.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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