Polystyrene Ban

Polystyrene Ordinance Ban Effective August 1, 2013

A new Polystyrene Ban Ordinance will applies only to Colma’s businesses, which sell prepared food items. The ordinance prohibits the use of containers made of polystyrene, the most common item being clamshell type containers. The implementation date of the ordinance is August 1, 2013. The following are frequently asked questions from the San Mateo County website regarding the ordinance.

What does the Ordinance prohibit?

  • Foam and solid polystyrene food service ware as listed in the Ordinance, including but not limited to containers, bowls, plates, and cups.
  • Ask your supplier if you are unsure if your products are polystyrene.

What is wrong with polystyrene food service ware?

  • It is not recyclable.
  • It is a common item that is littered on streets that ends up in storm drains, on beaches, and in the Bay and Ocean.
  • It breaks down into smaller pieces that may be ingested by wildlife resulting in reduced appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, and starvation.
  • It contains hazardous chemicals that may leach from polystyrene containers into food and drink and may cause cancer.

What food service ware does the ordinance allow?

  • Any type of biodegradable, compostable, reusable, or recyclable food service ware.
  • Acceptable products include: Aluminum, plastics coded with #1, 2, 4 or 5, uncoated or coated paper, cardboard, and plastics made from corn, potatoes, sugar, or other plant based products.

What can my business do to reduce food service ware costs?

  • Allow and encourage customers to bring their own mugs to buy drinks.
  • Charge a “take out fee” to cover the cost difference.
  • Use reusable dishes and cups instead of disposable ones for “eat-in” customers.

To find out more about the ordinance, products that are permitted and sources to purchase alternative containers, go to: www.smchealth.org (excerpts from this site are above), or contact the Planning Department at (650)757-8888

Close window