reEarth Consulting worked with the City of Carlsbad to implement a six-phase project to educate, train and support local restaurants in the City of Carlsbad to transition to compliance with California AB 1276.
reEarth Consulting was founded in 2018 to accelerate the transition to a regenerative and prosperous economy, a healthier environment and a more equitable society. Working with governments, other public entities and corporations, reEarth brings wisdom, practicality and guidance to support the transformation and regeneration of human and ecological systems so that current and future generations may thrive.
Our team of consultants have over 20 years of combined expertise, experience and vision to help clients achieve their sustainability goals through outreach, education, and realistic transition plans that assist and accelerate the implementation of environmental innitiatives. Our mission is to put people and our planet at the heart of all we do.
We remain committed to bringing holistic and systematic metrics into the core of our implementation strategies to bring about lasting and impactful change. We created this case study with the City of Carlsbad to share our process and approach to further inspire single-use plastic reduction for restaurants.
- Discover what approaches help and motivate local restaurants to reduce and ideally eliminate single-use disposable foodware waste from their operations.
Background: California’s AB 1276
A more renewable, circular economy in California begins with the implementation of AB 1276, a bill that aims to reduce trash pollution by requiring businesses to reduce the amount of single-use food utensils and condiment packets going out of their door with and to customers. The law is designed to make it easier for businesses to reduce their use of disposable products, which will lead to less trash in landfills and a reduction in the amount of plastic pollution in the environment.
The Client: City of Carlsbad
Carlsbad, California is a coastal city located in northern San Diego County. The city has made a commitment to sustainability and has implemented a number of programs and initiatives to reduce its environmental impact. In 2019, the City of Carlsbad was named one of the top 100 "Green Cities" in the United States by the National Geographic Society, and the city has received several awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its recycling and energy-saving programs.
The City of Carlsbad, hired reEarth to design, develop and implement a pilot program that addressed single-use disposable foodware waste generated by restaurants in the City of Carlsbad between 2019 and 2021.
Strategy & Goals
We at reEarth, designed a comprehensive program that included our cornerstone four components of:
To identify effective and workable opportunities for the City of Carlsbad restaurants, reEarth first performed strategic business analysis using questionnaires, interviews, and on-site observations. Based on the analysis, reEarth customized waste reduction recommendations for each restaurant engaged in the program. Restaurants were then invited to pledge to implement the solutions offered and signed acknowledgments were collected.
The reEarth team also collected waste reduction data and feedback from the participating restaurants to track the progress and impact of the program. Based on the data and feedback, a final report was created with program findings and recommendations for a course of action for the City of Carlsbad to continue to reduce waste and promote sustainability for residents.
Our key findings from working with the City of Carlsbad on its single-use waste reduction program were that having protocols in place for program language, communication, and dealing with unforeseen circumstances is crucial to a program's success.
For example, having protocols in place for dealing with non-responsive or aggressive program participants is important to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the program. Additionally, protocols for unforeseen circumstances, such as the closing of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were also crucial to address.
Another key finding was that communicating solutions rather than problems to businesses opened doors for participation, as it helped to create a positive and productive dialogue. We also found that local jurisdiction involvement in outreach communication was paramount in achieving participation. This helped to build trust and credibility with the restaurants and made them more likely to engage in the program.
Furthermore, we found that price affordability and immediate-term financial positive results were key motivators for the participating restaurants to adopt waste reduction practices. Businesses were more likely to adopt sustainable solutions if they could see a clear financial benefit to doing so.
On average the #1 reason given by restaurants to not participate in the pilot program was "absence of a local ordinance that requires them to reduce waste" which helped us inform the City of Carlsbad on the next best action steps to take. Overall, it is important to build trust, provide clear solutions, and address the financial concerns of businesses in order to successfully reduce waste, promote sustainability and get restaurants fully in compliance with AB 1276.
reEarth further proposed a plan to the City of Carlsbad that included a recommendation to create an ordinance to ban the sale and distribution of single-use disposable food ware items with high environmental impact in their jurisdiction, and a supporting program, with more outreach, education and technical assistance to help restaurants transition to ordinance compliance, and therefore California law compliance also. This proposal aimed to significantly reduce the waste generated by the city's restaurants and the negative environmental impact.
Restaurants play a significant role in the American economy, employing millions of people and shape the cultural and social fabric of communities across the country. Beyond their economic and social importance, restaurants also play a key role in influencing the food culture and food systems in America. They shape the way Americans eat, by offering a wide variety of cuisines and food styles. They also have an impact on the food supply chain, by sourcing ingredients from local farmers, and supporting local food systems.
However, with this importance also comes a level of responsibility. Restaurants generate a significant amount of waste, including food, single-use plastic and foodware waste. Therefore, it's important that the entire industry takes steps to eliminate waste and promote sustainability in order to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. With the right strategy, an effective outreach program and inspiring training, restaurants across all cities in America can easily adopt these strategies, and further create a positive impact on the environment and American culture.
Cities across the state are working hard to comply with AB 1276 and related legislation. If you have any questions regarding AB 1276, or how to adopt policies and run programs conducive to compliance with this law, please contact reEarth Consulting. Email: info@reEarthConsulting.com