Close Panel

Disposable Food Service Ware

  • Email
  • Print

The City of San Bruno is considering adopting a Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance. The proposed 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.


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.

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 schools1, etc.

       1 Public schools are not required to meet the Ordinance requirements.

How will this impact food facilities?

  1. Polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) food service ware is still prohibited (existing ordinance).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Plates, bowls, cups, food trays, clamshells, and other take-out containers must be non-plastic and compostable.
  5. Exemptions are allowed for disposable food service ware made from aluminum, plastic straws for medical accommodations (upon request). See ordinance for more information.

What are the next steps?

  • The Ordinance will be presented to City Council for adoption in August 2021. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the City will extend the operational and enforcement start date to October 1, 2022 to align with other jurisdictions who have adopted the County's Ordinance. Food facilities may use up their existing non-conforming inventory of disposable food service ware during this time.

Additional Resources