Alameda County allows bring-your-own reusable food ware at restaurants and stores

September 28, 2021

The consumption of single-use food ware has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Help limit the waste generated by these products by bringing your own reusables like utensils, straws, and mugs to restaurants and stores. Alameda County allows their use so long as they are properly washed, rinsed, sanitized, and staff are not required to touch them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified the primary method of COVID-19 transmission as person to person contact, finding no evidence of cases from food, food containers, or food packaging. For this reason, since June 2020, the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health, consistent with the CDC, has allowed the use of reusables in dining and other related establishments.

Single use food ware items are a leading source of litter and, even when properly disposed, typically end up in landfills. For instance, typical single use coffee cups have a waterproof lining made from plastic, rendering them unrecyclable and not easily composted by most facilities. This means that a large portion of the 16 billion disposable coffee cups used every year must ultimately be sent to the landfill, along with other disposable food ware products.

As Hayward businesses continue to reopen, patrons are encouraged to respect individual businesses’ COVID safety protocols. Many businesses, such as Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee, have announced they have reinstated their personal reusable cup programs, but policies from location to location may vary. Additionally, grocery stores and retail businesses continue to allow customers to bring reusable bags following the June 2020 resumption of the State’s Reusable Bag Law. To learn more about reusable products and how to reduce waste, visit StopWaste’s website.