COBI Reaches Out, Asks For Business Input On New Waste Reduction Plans

The time has come for all interested Bainbridge business owners to raise their voice and give input into the City’s forthcoming plans to reduce waste and increase reusability on the Island. This morning, COBI staff, led City Manager Blair King published a new online survey and are requesting all food service and hospitality organizations to share their current capabilities and thoughts on potential additional measures.

We here at the Chamber would like to add our voices to that appeal – Please click now to take the COBI Food Service Business Survey – it has been designed to take no more than 15 minutes of your valuable time.

Bainbridge Waste Reduction Plan Background

Earlier in the year, as a first step towards a stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on Bainbridge by 90%, City Council began consideration of what began as a ‘plastics’ ordinance and, after much input from both business and environmental interests, became instead an ongoing ‘Single-Use Food Ware & Waste Reduction’ plan.

The Ordinance introduced new regulations that include the following changes for retail establishments which take effect January 1, 2022:

Dine In
Single-use food service items are still available for customers who ask for them or respond “yes” to a business offering them.
Businesses can’t leave out bins with single-use food service items for customers to take on their own.

Take out
Single-use food service items are still available for customers who ask for them or respond “yes” to a business offering them.
Single-use food service items can’t automatically be placed in to-go orders but are available for customers who ask for them or respond “yes” to a business offering them.

Since June, as an offshoot of that effort, the Chamber (along with a selection of other interested Island entities) has partnered with the City to move forward on three fronts:

  1. Communications – To send out written notices and clarifications around the initial round of changes for Island dine-in and take-out food service establishments.
  2. Personal Visits – To follow up the written notices with in-person visits
  3. Community Input – To have local business and environmental entities form a Task Force and play an active role in helping suggest the form and timing of subsequent rounds of changes and updates, in concert with feedback and input from the wider community.

Part 1: Advance Notices and Communications Outreach (September 2021)

To directly communicate that the rules for single-use food service products (cups, utensils, straws/stirrers, packaged condiments) will change from January 1, City staff worked with the Chamber, Downtown Association, and Zero Waste/Sustainable Bainbridge to create a simple poster and reduce confusion. The poster was the mailed out earlier this month (along with a copy of the full ordinance version as voted on in June) to the City’s list of affected business, published on the city website, and placed as print and digital adverts in the Bainbridge Review and Islander.

Didn’t get your copy?
See the January 1, 2022 Waste Reduction Ordinance Poster
Read the Current Version of COBI Ordinance Chapter 8.24

Part 2: A New Business Ambassador Program (October 2021)

As a follow up to the mailing (and to personally add to/update the records of brick-and-mortar businesses located in the Island commercial centers), teams of Waste Reduction Business Ambassadors will be walking Winslow, Lynwood Center, Rolling Bay, Coppertop, Island Center, Day Rd and beyond. They will survey and update affected Island business owners and staff and provide an in-person point of contact for all those with concerns and suggestions. This program was approved and activated by City staff yesterday.

Part 3: The Bainbridge Waste Reduction Task Force, Business Surveys & Beyond (Ongoing)

As specified in June’s Ordinance, a Task Force was formed with 3 councilmembers, 3 business representatives, and 3 environmental representatives included, plus Bainbridge Disposal as the practical facilitator of potential plans to increase compostability and reduce waste on the Island. They were tasked with creating talking points and guidance back to Council by the end of September.

Over the past 2 months, lively, wide-ranging discussions have centered on a handful of key discussion points:

  1. What Waste Reduction programs are already underway in comparable communities to ours, and what lessons can be learned from them?
  2. What new food service item materials could reasonably be adopted on the Island (considering cost, availability and tested application), and on what timetable?
  3. How much do Island businesses already use reusable (i.e., able to be dishwashed commercially) dine-in food service items, and how and when might more be able to?
  4. What moves have local organizations already made towards removing petroleum-based plastics from their businesses, and how might they best be shared and spread island-wide?
  5. How best to encourage positive consumer behavior with regard to waste reduction among residents and visitors?
  6. What is the current state and future possibilities for composting (both at home and industrially-managed) on Bainbridge?
  7. What role (practical, financial, and educational) can the City best play in supporting local business as our community moves towards the goal of reducing waste in the food service industry and beyond?

The new City Survey is the first chance for the entire business community to add their feedback and suggestions to the process – Click here to share your Survey responses…

As an additional piece of interaction with the business community, the Chamber is forming a new cross-section panel of 8-10 representative Island companies (including T&C, Via Rosa, Pegasus, Madison Diner, Bainbridge Brewing, Ba Sa, Miguelitos, The Apothecary/Tea Room and more) to act as future testers of potential new food service products, making sure that manufacturer promises are actually applicable to the real world as lived and worked on Bainbridge today, and providing feedback on potential exemptions to the final ordinance.

Stand by for the results of all these efforts by the Waste Reduction Task Force, City Staff, and Testing Panel to be combined with the results of the new Survey and other direct feedback from local business owners and community members as City Code, Chapter 8.24 comes back up before City Council next month.

Updates to follow… and always feel free to share your thoughts with the Chamber team

Also remember that you can always let councilmembers know what you think about Waste Reduction on Bainbridge (or any other subject) by emailing them all via [email protected] and/or standing up during public comment at any City Council Business Meeting