City Ordinances & Laws
- Disposable Food Service Ware
- Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Ban
- SB 1383: CalRecycle Organics Regulations
- Single Use Plastic Bag Ban
The 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.
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:
- 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:
- Email the Foodware Aware Team
- Hotline: 888-442-2666
Effective April 1, 2010, food vendors using disposable food service ware are prohibited from dispensing prepared food to customers in disposable food service ware made from polystyrene.
SB 1383: Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Senate Bill 1383: Short-lived Climate Pollutants is part of a statewide effort to reduce the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (like methane gas) in various sectors of California's economy. SB 1383 establishes specific statewide targets:
- Reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills (50% reduction by 2020 and 75% by 2025)
- Reduce at least 20% of edible food that is currently going to landfills by 2025 and redirect it to people in need
Organic waste is food, landscape trimmings, lumber, cardboard, paper products, and other plant and animal based products.
The California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) finalized the regulations to achieve the goals of SB 1383 in November 2020 and these regulations take effect in January 2022.
The State has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve health, and create clean jobs that support resilient local economies. Organic waste makes up half of what Californians send to landfills, where it emits 20% of the state's methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Implementing the statewide plan under SB 1383 will reduce methane emissions and is essential to achieving California's climate goals.
What does this mean for residents?
Single-family homes in San Bruno are already enrolled in Recology's composting program. Residents must compost all organic waste in their green bins.
Multifamily building owners need to enroll in Recology's composting program. Recology will provide multifamily buildings with the necessary green composting bins and outreach materials for tenants. Contact Recology to set up composting.
What does this mean for businesses?
All businesses are required to set up a composting service and provide labeled collection bins for organic waste and recyclables next to trashcans for employees, tenants, and customers. Contact Recology to set up composting.
Food Recovery Program
Edible food recovery is the act of diverting surplus edible food from businesses, organizations, or events that otherwise would have been disposed of for consumption by members of our community. If you are a large, food-generating business or organization you have new edible food recovery requirements under SB 1383.
The good news is that San Bruno has joined with San Mateo County's 22 other jurisdictions to create one countywide edible food recovery program to help all affected businesses and organizations meet their new mandatory requirements. This program is managed by the County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability and has recovered millions of food to date!
Visit the County's Edible Food Recovery Program page for additional information and resources.