California pushes for sustainability with Bill AB 619

Bill AB 619, which allows customers to bring their own reusable cups and containers to restaurants, was approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July.

“Consumer-owned containers may be refilled and returned to the same consumer if the container is refilled by an employee of the food facility or the owner of the container and the dispensing system includes a contamination-free transfer process,” according to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. This means as long as your containers are clean, you’re allowed to take your food to-go with them anywhere in California.

The passing of AB 619 not only helps the environment, but can also benefit people’s health. “Reusable foodware is the best choice for environmental and health reasons. Even the ‘best’ non fluorinated disposable foodware creates avoidable waste, depletes natural resources, and raises concerns about other toxic chemicals, the environment, and human health,” according to The Center for Environmental Health.

Although the bill was passed in California a few months ago, many are unaware of its existence. “It is important to note that our campus has had a reusable take-out container for the last couple years,” said Lacey Raak, director of sustainability at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). “[The composting stations we have are] even a little better and has a lower embodied carbon footprint, and can be broken down again. However, most places don’t have compost capabilities, leaving reusables as the best option. So, this bill helps support the best option: re-use.”

Rakk also said a great way to implement using reusable containers in restaurants outside the CSUMB campus is to “call in advance and tell them you want an order for pick-up and that you’ll be bringing in your own containers.”

Many CSUMB students are in favor of eco-friendly ideas and were happily surprised to hear of the bill’s creation. “[AB 619 is] really cool,” said CSUMB student, Richard Espinoza. “It’s like bringing your own bags to the grocery store. You can come prepared when you want to take food to-go.”

CSUMB student Matthew Johnson was also happy to hear about the bill. “It gives people the option if they want to be more sustainable and produce less garbage,” Johnson said. “I think that’s pretty great.”

Sustainability and eco-friendliness are definitely highly valued in California, but Bill AB 619 helps to show there’s always room to push for ways that we can help the planet.

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