California Restaurants Consider Adding Environmental Impact Fee to Customers’ Bills

SACRAMENTO -- Some of your favorite restaurants may soon be charging a new environmental impact fee designed to reduce their carbon footprints.

According to the nonprofit ReFED, the restaurant industry alone generates around 11.4 million tons of food waste every year, costing $25 billion annually.

Now, a new statewide environmental program in California, called Restore California Renewable Restaurants, hopes to offset that carbon footprint by charging customers 1% of their bill.

That money would then go to the state’s Healthy Soils Program, which funds sustainable farming practices in California.

"Yes, I’m supporting this," said Patrick Mulvaney, the owner of Mulvaney’s Building & Loan. "We believe in carbon neutrality and we want to support that, and even carbon negativity, if we can."

Mulvaney’s restaurant has a history of reducing waste.

"So five years ago, we had three dumpsters," Mulvaney told FOX40. "And then we got into a program where our waste anaerobically digested and moved from those three dumpsters down to less than a 5-gallon bucket of trash that’s going into the landfill."

While Mulvaney supports the new Restore California program, he said he's not sure if he’ll participate yet as some of his customers may not like the fee, even if it is just 1%.

"Some have said this doesn’t cost you anything because you are passing it onto the customer," he told FOX40. "And what I’ve said to them is it does cost me something, right? You come here to the B&L because you trust us and at the end of the day, you’re having an additional charge put on your bill."

Mulvaney said, for now, he’s getting a study done on his restaurant to gauge just how big his carbon footprint really is. After those results are back he’ll decide whether or not the Restore California program makes sense.

"The issue is right, we think about what kind of land are we leaving for our grandchildren," Mulvaney said. "I support that but I want to support it mindfully.”

According to Restore California, only 25 restaurants in the state are participating in the program. That’s out of an estimated 90,000 restaurants that operate in the state, according to the California Restaurant Association.

The California Department of Agriculture and Food said no restaurants in the Sacramento area have signed up for the program yet.

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