The State Legislature completed adoption of the state budget overnight on March 31st and April 1st and there were no major issues for our members. The final budget does include a ban on single-use plastic bags, but it exempts restaurants. The new state law has a somewhat confusing local option to require a fee on paper bags. That may not be the end of this discussion – one legislator has introduced a bill to extend the ban to include restaurants and there are ongoing discussions about the paper bag fee.
The budget also includes a requirement for large food generators (those producing an average of two tons of food waste per week over the course of a year) to donate edible food and to compost food scraps if an organic recycler is located within 25 miles of their location. This won’t affect you in its current form – very few restaurants in the state will be covered – but it sets the framework for future rules for all food service establishments.
Efforts to expand the bottle bill fell short during the budget discussions. There is broad legislative support for expanding the law to include more containers, including possibly wine and liquor bottles, and the legislature is expected to pursue this in the post-budget portion of the session. The challenges of the international recycling market, the needs of local municipalities, and the realities of the collection system make this an extremely complicated issue to resolve. We’re digging in for the battle to make sure your business interests are protected.