Please note the time change of San Rafael Regular City Council Meetings to commence at 6:00 p.m. 

Reusable Foodware Ordinance

In May of 2022, following several months of countywide outreach, the City of San Rafael adopted the County of Marin’s Reusable Foodware Model Ordinance.  Adoption of this ordinance is aimed at reducing the amount of single-use plastics in our waste streams and in our storm drains, creeks, and Bay. This ordinance applies to all entities selling prepared food to the public in the City of San Rafael, including restaurants, grocery stores and delis, bakeries, carry-out, quick services, farmers markets, food trucks, and any other business with a health permit. Enforcement will begin on November 10, 2023. 

Compliance with the Ordinance requires that the above entities: 

  • 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. 
Graphic explaining the hierarchy of foodware items. Reusable foodware and utensils are the best option, compliant natural-fiber or all aluminum foodware are acceptable, and plastic or plastic-lined paper foodware are banned.

Click here for a list of currently exempt items or visit the County's FAQ section for more information.  

Enforcement

The County of Marin’s Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) will implement and enforce the proposed 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. 

Customer-Provided Reusables

Switching to reusable products is the number one best method of reducing the volume of foodware waste headed to landfill. Some customers may wish to provide their own reusable foodware containers as an alternative to compliant restaurant provided foodware.  

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.  

Do you have more questions? 

Check out the County of Marin’s FAQ section on their Reusable Foodware Ordinance homepage to answer questions such as: 

  • Why Aren't Bio-Plastics a Solution? 
  • A tool for finding compliant alternatives  
  • What is considered compostable?  
  • Who does this ordinance apply to? 
  • Why is Plastic a Problem? 

To request free technical assistance in transitioning to reusables and/or compliant materials, please email foodware@marincounty.org. 

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