New rules: Bainbridge businesses required to add 25-cent surcharge for disposable cups
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – A slate of new regulations restricting the use of single-use plastic items like forks and spoons and discouraging the use of disposable cups at businesses on Bainbridge Island went into effect on Sunday.
City Council members approved the rules in 2021, and they went into effect at the beginning of 2023. The new city of Bainbridge Island waste reduction rules for restaurants and hotels include the following:
A prohibition on businesses using disposable plastic food service ware and a requirement that disposable food service ware be home compostable
A requirement that reusable food service ware be used for on-site dining
A prohibition on the use of polystyrene-based food service ware for prepared food
A requirement that a 25-cent fee be charged for disposable cups, designed to encourage the use of reusable cups
A prohibition on hotels and lodging establishments providing personal care products that aren’t packaged in home compostable packaging, designed to encourage the use of refillable product dispensers
All retail food establishments on Bainbridge are required to charge a 25-cent fee for disposable cups. The fee is retained by the business “to help offset some of the cost associated with providing a home compostable disposable cup,” according to the city.
More:New waste reduction rules on Bainbridge Island ban plastic food service items
Walt Hannon, owner of Walt’s Lynwood Market, a neighborhood convenience store in Lynwood Center, said he supported a move to compostable products but lamented the higher prices that will be passed on to customers. Hannon pointed to a change in sandwich trays that his market uses that will mean a jump in price of about 30 cents.
“My question is will that change peoples’ buying habits?” he said. “Will someone make a conscious decision now and say, ‘Eh, I’ll wait ‘til I get off the island to get my lunch,’ or, ‘I won’t go there’?”
"It's going to be an interesting few months," he added.
Hannon said his store has been prepping customers in recent months and said a couple of them have started to bring their own cups.
The city has said that all businesses have been given a three-month grace period through the end of March to use up existing supplies of non-home compostable food and beverage packaging for to-go orders. The city also has a list of products and businesses that have been granted temporary exemptions to the rules.
City spokeswoman Shannon Hays wrote to the Kitsap Sun in an email that exemptions are only granted for products for which there are not at least two vendors that make readily available home compostable alternative items.
Hays said the city’s primary focus as it related to the new rules would be education: “Education not just on the new regulations, but on how Bainbridge Island can be climate savvy and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with consumption and waste generation. The new waste reduction regulations will help reduce waste in the environment, protect public health and reduce dependence on plastic in support of goals outlined in the City’s 2020 Climate Action Plan. Enforcement options are being explored at this time.”
Hays said business ambassadors visited all impacted businesses to review the new requirements late last year and noted that another round of visits is planned early this year. The city also hosted a home compostable vendor fair in December.
Another set of related rules for businesses went into effect in 2022 on the island. According to the city, those regulations prohibit businesses from leaving out bins of single-use food service items for customers to take on their own and tell establishments not to provide single-use items automatically with to-go orders. Those items can still be provided to patrons who ask for them or who affirm that they'd want them when asked by a business representative.
For more information about the rules, visit bainbridgewa.gov/1417/2023-Waste-Reduction-Resources.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Bainbridge businesses told to add 25-cent charge for disposable cups