A new proposal being considered by the St. Paul City Council would outlaw non-biodegradable takeout containers in city restaurants by 2021.
According to The Pioneer Press, the proposal was conceived by council member Mitra Nelson, who lamented the fact that “restaurants are putting a lot of packaging out there that isn’t compostable, isn’t recyclable, and it’s filling up our landfills.”
The idea was first brought to the St. Paul City Council in 2017, but was tabled for future consideration. This time around, Nelson and her colleague Jane Prince plan to coordinate two years of outreach to small businesses to help implement the ban. Some ideas being considered include group purchasing of biodegradable containers, and grants provided through Ramsey County and Washington County to help businesses pay for the containers.
But Liz Rammer, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota and the Minnesota Restaurant Association, opposes the idea.
“We have concerns that the city of St. Paul has not addressed the significant cost increases that will impact small businesses through such a ban,” she said.
As The Pioneer Press’ Fred Melo notes, the ban would be the latest in a number of ordinances affecting small businesses in the city, including: a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, and no flavored tobacco.
Additionally, as The Minnesota Sun first reported, a DFL-backed bill currently making its ways through the State Senate would make the distribution of “single-use plastic straws” by restaurants a “petty misdemeanor.”
“A restaurant must not provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless the customer requests a straw or selects a straw from a self-service dispenser,” that bill states, and suggests alternatives like straws made from “paper, sugar cane, or bamboo.”
The St. Paul City Council’s ordinance against non-biodegradable containers would go into effect January 1, 2021, if passed, but could include exceptions for cups and lids used for hot beverages.
“My staff has gone out to Hmong Marketplace, and a lot of businesses have already made the transition,” Nelson said. “A lot of the restaurants are already there. I feel optimistic for it. We’re working to make sure people have what they need to transition.”
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