Starting January 1, 2021, a new law will go into effect restricting the use of single-use plastic food serviceware in the City of Burien.

This law was passed by the Burien City Council at its Feb. 3, 2020 meeting, “to reduce the growing amount of non-compostable and non-recyclable waste that ends up in our landfills and in our environment.”

Burien is the 10th city in Washington state to pass a food serviceware ordinance, and the third to pass a food serviceware ordinance that requires materials be compostable.

Approximately 8.8 million tons of plastic pollution flows into the ocean each year, and this amount is expected to double by 2025. Non-compostable food service products never biodegrade. Instead, they break down into smaller particles that seep into the soil or are carried into the ocean, posing a critical threat to animal life. Approximately nine percent of the plastic produced to date has been recycled and annual recycling rates in the U.S. have stagnated at around nine percent for the last decade. The costs associated with the use and disposal of non-compostable food service products create a burden on our public solid waste disposal system and the litter clogs stormwater drains maintained by the City of Burien.

Here are five things to know about the new law:

  1. This law applies to businesses, such as restaurants, grocery stories, and coffee shops, and the products they offer their customers. It does not require residents to purchase compostable products for personal use.
  2. Compostable products must be made from materials that can completely break down.
  3. The types of products it restricts include: Styrofoam takeout containers, plastic-lined takeout containers, plastic to go cups, plastic utensils, and any other food service product that is not compostable.
  4. Products that are exempt from this law include: pre-packaged foods, catering trays, produce bags, clear food wrap and shrink wrap, containers for uniquely shaped foods such as deviled eggs and cupcakes, hot meat item containers, and straws.
  5. Businesses can ask for a one-year waiver for a specific food service product if the business can prove that stopping use of a restricted product would cause an undue hardship.

Are you a Burien business and need help getting ready for the new law? The City of Burien has a team of people ready to help businesses get ready for when the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2021. The City will be hosting an information session and other education opportunities in 2020. Contact [email protected] to get on a list to be notified of these events.

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