The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday collectively passed a pair of plastic reduction laws that will put the city at the lead of a growing effort to dump single-use plastic products.
The City Council abolished and renewed its existing Environmentally Acceptable Packaging and Products Ordinance with new ordnance that will force the city’s food service industry to make the switch from plastics to biodegradable and compostable containers.
It also passed a Hospitality Industry Plastic Reduction Ordinance that would ban the use of small, single-use bottles for personal care products and require hotels, motels and vacation rentals in city limits to switch over to large bottles, containers or other alternatives — a ban already in place in the unincorporated part of the county and recently introduced at the state level.
The council also included an amendment in the first ordinance in which anyone can ask for a plastic straw without having to prove they have a disability, verbiage that was included in the city staff’s presentation that did not sit well with council members.
The changes will be rolled out in waves over the next two years. In 2020 restaurants will be banned from using plastic straws, and the hospitality ordinance will also kick in. The following year restaurants will be required to have a three-bin waste system and compostable to-go food wares and a mandatory 10-cent to-go cup charge, a fee similar to one performed in the city’s ordinance against plastic bags earlier this year.
“The idea is these lower hanging fruit on reusables like bags, cups, things like that, people can really make some big leaps in reducing trash, recycling, and compostables,” Assistant Public Works & Utilities Director Michelle Templeton stated. “That’s the purpose behind the charge.”