Waste reduction is the natural starting point for having less to throw away. In that spirit, beginning on January 1, 2022, Bainbridge Island’s new waste reduction ordinance takes effect that exchanges automatic provision of food and drink accessories for a request/ confirmation model.

In practical terms, this means that all food and drink retailers — including food trucks and caterers — must ask the customer or the customer must request utensils, straw/stirrers, single-use condiment packages and lids for cold beverages (the latter item not applicable to take-out, drive-thru or delivery orders). For online ordering, the local platform Islandbite is adding a section to its website to enable customer opt-in.  Operating in this way, you the customer are allowed to make the decision on what you want, the businesses will save a little money, and the city makes a start on one of its Climate Action Plan goals.

Detailed here are more changes that will be coming in January 1, 2023, as specified in the Single-use Foodware and Waste Reduction ordinance passed last month by the Bainbridge city council.

  • Reusable service ware for dine-in or onsite outside dining
  • Home compostable service ware (i.e., not compostable plastic, but fiber-based) for take-out
  • 25-cent fee on take-out cups (Get in the habit of bringing your own vessel!)

The city has formed a Business Ambassador Program, coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, that has already reached out to practically all affected retailers about the accessories part of the ordinance. COBI will continue supporting the ambassador program through next year and will work to assist businesses by educating visitors and residents about the new practices and collaborating with vendors on compostable service ware sourcing.

Bainbridge Island is one of the American cities on the forefront of promoting compostable service ware. In fact, the National Restaurant Association’s survey of 350 chefs ranks it number one on consumers’ minds when dining out in 2022. And with a Guardian article citing that “more than 70% of Americans report ordering takeout or delivery one to three times a week, resulting in hundreds of billions of single-use products,” switching from nonrecyclable plastic to compostable service ware (and could a reusable take-out container system be a logical next step?) is the way to go.