Zero Waste Packaging Ordinance

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

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. The goal of the ordinance is to reduce the amount of trash created by food and beverage packaging. 

2019 ordinance amendments

In June 2019, the city adopted several changes to Chapter 12 of the city code. In addition to definition changes to harmonize with other parts of code, the primary changes were made to Article VI. Zero Waste Packaging. 

The draft ordinance can be seen on the city's website.

The following is a summary of the changes adopted. 

  • Require that lids for cups and containers be of the same category of packaging (i.e. recyclable lids on recyclable cups/containers and compostable lids on compostable cups/containers)
  • Require all compostable cups (paper or plastic) be labeled to indicate compostability
  • Remove plastic utensils from the exclusions and require single-use utensils to be compostable
  • Require that straws be provided “by request only”
  • Require that the organizations hosting food trucks provide collection containers for organics and/or recycling
  • Add a requirement for co-location of collection containers to the ordinance
  • Remove specific administrative penalty information from the ordinance and include it in the city’s fee schedule approved annually by council

Additional Information

Temporary exemptions

Beginning May 1, 2019, the temporary exemption for polystyrene (#6 plastic) hot cup lids ended. This exemption was 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

Business resources


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.

Updates mailing list

Sign up for zero waste packaging updates.


Emily Barker, solid waste specialist