• Tue. Jun 21st, 2022

City commission is one vote away from passing ordinances that impose new regulations on every restaurant, food retailer and apartment complex

ByChad J. Johnson

May 16, 2022
Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos praises new orders


With little discussion, the first reading of the City of Gainesville’s Zero Waste Ordinances passed unanimously on May 5.

“Solid Waste”

The “Solid Waste” Ordinance sets new requirements for commercial establishments, including providing an equal number of receptacles for recycling as those provided for garbage, requiring pharmacies to provide a drug take-back program on ordinance and requiring all properties that provide commercial-recycling service to also provide recycling service. Residential properties with 200 or more rental units must provide a plan by January 1, 2023 to divert “usable and functional household items, furniture and electronics” from the landfill waste stream. Properties with at least 50 rental units must provide such a plan by January 1, 2025.

The order includes the provision that restaurants are no longer allowed to provide single-use plastic utensils or other accessories, even for dinner, unless the customer requests them or unless they are provided at a self-service station.

All intentional outdoor releases of plastic confetti, sequins and balloons are also prohibited.

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos thanked everyone who had worked on the ordinance since the launch of Zero Waste Gainesville in 2017. “It will be, I believe, probably one of the most progressive ordinances in the United States on this subject. , especially in the Southeast, and it will allow us to make substantial changes, which the public has been asking for for a long time.

He moved a motion to pass the ordinance on first reading. Commissioner David Arreola thanked Hayes-Santos for his “hyper focus” on creating the ordinance. Commissioner Reina Saco said: “It was a huge effort… I can’t wait to see the effects.

No member of the public spoke and the motion passed unanimously.

“food waste”

The “Food Waste” ordinance imposes the mandatory collection of food waste. All owners of commercially collected residential property (e.g. apartment complexes, etc.) are required to implement a food waste collection program that provides a food waste container in a common area of ​​the property, educates their residents and provides each resident with a container for transporting food waste to the collection area.

Commercial establishments (such as restaurants) that “generate one cubic meter or more of food waste per week” are required to separate food waste from the waste stream by June 1, 2023. By June 1, 2026, all commercial establishments must separate food waste from the waste stream. Restaurants must also deliver food waste to a food waste processor or produce a contract with a food waste filer.

Any restaurant that provides trash cans to the public “must provide an equal number of trash cans for food waste collection” alongside trash cans and recycling bins.

Registration with the City is mandatory for any entity that “collects, transports, conveys or treats food waste”. All food waste “must be delivered to a food waste handling facility that meets the licensing requirements of the State of Florida.”

The ordinance passed unanimously on first reading without any discussion, and no one in the audience spoke about it.

“Food Diversion”

The third order, the Food Diversion Order, requires food retailers that occupy at least 25,000 square feet to divert food or food waste from the waste stream by January 1, 2023. By January 1 2024, establishments that occupy at least 4,500 square feet, as well as a wide range of other retail/food preparation businesses, are required to comply.

Under the ordinance, food must be diverted according to this hierarchy: 1) Feed the hungry; 2) Feed the animals; 3) Provide for industrial uses; 4) Composting. Businesses must provide delivery receipts to a food bank or food waste facility.

Saco moved a motion to approve the ordinance on first reading. Hayes-Santos remarked, “I think that part of the order is pretty important. This has – grocery stores won’t be able to just throw away edibles. They will have to give it to people who are hungry. So this is a major step in that direction to not waste edible food, ensuring that people in our community don’t go hungry.

Again, no one from the public spoke and the ordinance passed unanimously on first reading.

Both ordinances will become final at second reading, which is scheduled for this Thursday’s city commission meeting if it takes place.