The Zero Waste Packaging Ordinance went into effect on January 1, 2017, and requires that all single-use food packaging used by licensed food establishments be recyclable or compostable. This includes packaging used to serve customers on-site or taken to-go. The ordinance applies to restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, grocery store delis and salad bars, gas stations and any other licensed food establishment.
Beginning May 1, 2019, the temporary exemption for polystyrene (#6 plastic) hot cup lids will end. This exemption has been in place since January 2017 and was originally created due to the lack of compliant alternatives. Since then, compliant options have become more readily available, and several local establishments have already made the switch to certified compostable or polypropylene (#5) options.
The following items will continue to be temporarily exempt, through December 31, 2019:
- Paper food wraps: Plastic or foil-lined (e.g. fast food wrappers for items like sandwiches, burgers, tacos, etc.)
- Asian takeout pails: Plastic-lined paper, fold-top style
- Portion cups and lids: Rigid polystyrene (#6, PS), 2 ounce or smaller only (larger cups must be in compliance)
Reminder: Any food establishment that chooses to utilize temporarily exempt items MUST provide information to customers to clearly indicate these items cannot be recycled or composted, and must be placed in the garbage. This information must be provided in print in one of the following ways:
- Directly labeling exempt items
- Including text on menus
- Posting signage where it is visible to customers
- Zero Waste Packaging flyer
- Acceptable Materials and Exemption List
- Administrative rules
- Ordinance language
During a packaging fair in 2016, a Zero Waste Packaging Ordinance overview presentation was given to help food establishments understand the requirements of the ordinance.
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Emily Barker, solid waste specialist