In order to create a greener, more sustainable city, the city of Saint Paul has rolled out the Green To Go packaging initiative which requires to-go food and beverages to be packaged in environmentally friendly containers that can be composted, recycled, or returned/reused.
This ordinance was put into effect on January 1st, 2022, with the goal of decreasing the volume of landfill waste, minimizing toxic byproducts of incineration, making the waste stream less damaging to the environment, reducing the economic and environmental costs of waste management, and creating a more environmentally friendly city.
All individuals, businesses, or events that are serving or giving away food prepared for immediate consumption, i.e. the food is packaged onsite and can be consumed without additional preparation in containers used to transport foods, such as servicing trays, plates, containers, boxes, and cans, must be:
- Compostable— these are packaging materials that are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or others approved by the City;
- Recyclable— packaging materials that can be recycled in alignment with the City’s residential recycling contracts; a list of acceptable materials can be found on the Public Works Accepted Materials page; or
- Returnable/reusable— containers such as bottles, milk containers, growlers that can be returned to the distributor and used again.
This includes restaurants, delicatessens, food trucks or other mobile vendors, as well as seasonal or temporary food vendors. Businesses must have their own systems in place for proper composting or recycling of items.
The ordinance does not cover foods prepackaged by a manufacturer, producer, or distributor. Packaging used at hospitals and nursing homes is exempt and businesses may request an exemption if the packaging that a business currently has available does not meet any of the requirements or is cost prohibitive.