It's festival season, and big events like Coachella are in the works across the country — which has one California lawmaker thinking about all the plastic bottles and non-recyclables consumed at these gatherings.
Current law prohibits the use of reusable foodware like cups, plates and forks at temporary events, because they must be cleaned at approved facilities. A new bill could change that: It would either allow festival-goers to bring their own containers, or permit vendors to ditch plastic and Styrofoam for reusable products.
“If you're at an event like Coachella, you're supposed to be throwing away single-use materials,” said the bill’s author, San Francisco-based Democratic Assemblymember David Chiu. “We want to give event organizers the flexibility to allow for recyclable, reusable materials.”
The bill won't force the rule on vendors, but instead allow event organizers to opt in. Chiu says it would do that by permitting event operators to serve food in multi-use containers — if they follow food safety standards.
"Part of what we want to do is really nudge all consumers — all industry players, event organizers — to think about how they minimize their footprint after an event,” Chiu added
Imagine, Chiu says, pop-up eateries with glassware and utensils in the middle of your favorite festival as music lingers in the air.
“Many food and beverage vendors at my events want the option to provide their own reusable servingware, and festival attendees want to reduce the amount of trash they create,” said Barnett English, who founded the Joshua Tree Music Festival and the Guitarfish Music Festival. “This bill makes a simple and much-needed update for both businesses and customers.”
So far, the bill has no opposition and is part of a wider set of proposed laws looking to reduce plastic waste.