Disposable Food Service Ware

Food Service Ware that is acceptable and that which is notThe City of San Bruno adopted a Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance on September 14, 2021. The Ordinance will start being implemented and enforced on October 1, 2022 by the County of San Mateo's Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the City.

Background

This Ordinance is part of a countywide effort led by the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability (OOS) to regulate and reduce the amount of disposable food service ware in our city. About 1.3 million pounds of trash enters the San Francisco Bay every year, and single-use food and beverage packaging makes up about 80% of ocean plastic pollution.

The Ordinance will help eliminate the unnecessary distribution and use of disposable food service ware that is not reusable or compostable in food facilities within the city. This will improve the health and safety of community members by eliminating disposable food service ware that is harmful.

Who Will This Impact?

Food facilities: Any vendor, business, organization, group, or individual that provides prepared food for public consumption. Examples include:

  • Restaurants
  • Mobile food trucks
  • Temporary food facilities (e.g., street fairs)
  • Farmers markets
  • Catering operations
  • Some healthcare facilities
  • Private schools (public schools are not required to meet the Ordinance requirements), etc.

How Will This Impact Food Facilities?

  • Polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) food service ware is still prohibited (existing ordinance)
  • Accessories (e.g, straws, stirrers, cup spill plugs, condiment packets, utensils, napkins, etc.) can only be provided to consumers only upon request or at self-serve stations/dispensers
  • Straws, stirrers, utensils, and cocktail/toothpicks (and the packaging that these individual items are wrapped in, if any) must be made from non-plastic, compostable materials. Acceptable materials include natural fiber-based products such as paper, sugarcane, wheat stalk/stem, bamboo, wood, etc. Traditional plastics (petroleum-based) and compostable plastics (aka bioplastics or polyactic acid [PLA]) shall not be allowed for the items listed above
  • Plates, bowls, cups, food trays, clamshells, and other take-out containers must be non-plastic and compostable
  • Exemptions are allowed for disposable food service ware made from aluminum, plastic straws for medical accommodations (upon request); see the ordinance for more information.

Resources Available to Impacted Food Facilities

FAQs, a purchasing guide for acceptable disposable items, outreach materials (e.g., tent cards, employee guide, etc.) and other resources for food facilities are available at the County of San Mateo's Foodware Aware Program website.

Free technical assistance is available for food facilities to help meet the requirements of the Ordinance as well as go beyond the requirements and switch to reusable foodware. Up to $300 is available for food facilities who are interested in switching from disposable to reusable foodware!

Please contact the Foodware Aware Team for additional information: