Who has to follow the new Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance?
The Ordinance applies to anyone who sells or distributes polystyrene foam food ware, packing materials, and other specified products, or anyone packaging products for sale within San Francisco.
What are the requirements of the new law?
As of January 1, 2017, the law bans the sale or distribution of the following products made, in whole or in part, from polystyrene foam (so called StyrofoamTM and expanded, extruded or blown polystyrene):
• Food ware including cups, plates, clamshells, and other containers
• Meat and fish trays (as of July 1, 2017), and egg cartons
• Packing materials* including peanuts and shipping containers, and their use to pack within San Francisco products sold
• Coolers, ice chests or similar containers*
• Pool or beach toys*
• Dock floats, mooring buoys, or anchor or navigational markers* * Unless they are wholly encased within a more durable material
The law also requires that packing materials and disposable food ware sold or distributed must be accepted as compostable or recyclable in San Francisco’s collection programs.
What products are acceptable alternatives to polystyrene foam?
Packing materials and disposable food ware sold or distributed in San Francisco must be compostable or recyclable in the City’s collection programs. This includes those made with paper, cardboard, molded or rigid pulp or plastic, or certified compostable “starch peanuts”, loose fill or foam. The Department of the Environment will post on its website, and regularly update the types of acceptable products at: SFEnvironment.org/no-foam
How does the law apply to food and goods packaged outside of San Francisco?
Polystyrene foam materials used to package items purchased outside of San Francisco and shipped into San Francisco are still permissible by law, with the exception of polystyrene foam meat trays, fish trays and egg cartons. Polystyrene foam trays or cartons sold as part of the sale of raw meat, fish, poultry, or eggs and that are packaged outside of San Francisco and shipped in are prohibited.
How will the law be enforced?
The Department of Environment is responsible for enforcement of the Ordinance. The Department is committed to assisting businesses to ensure a smooth transition to acceptable alternatives. Businesses found non-compliant may be issued an initial warning and subsequent fines from $100 to $500.
Are waivers available?
The Department of Environment may waive provisions of the ordinance in the following circumstances:
• If no feasible alternative exists for a specific product or product category.
• If a business has less than $500,000 annual income and there is no affordable product available Requests for waivers must be submitted on a written application on a form approved by the Department. Waivers may be granted in whole or in part for up to 36 months. For questions about waivers, please call: (415) 295-6266
Acceptable compostable or recyclable packaging in San Francisco
Recyclable paper-based loose fill or sheets:
Recyclable (or compostable if food soiled) paper or plant fiber-based molds or partitions:
Recyclable rigid plastic molds:
Compostable (BPI certified ASTM D6400) starch-based loose fill packing peanuts (dissolves in water):
Compostable (BPI certified ASTM D6400) starch-based (dissolves in water) or mushroom-based foam: