Food Service Ware Regulations

food service ware regulations

To meet our zero waste goals, the City Council recently adopted a Food Service Ware Ordinance to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste and litter generated in Mountain View. The ordinance expanded the existing ban on polystyrene foam food service ware to other types of single-use plastics, to ensure that most types of disposable food service ware can be composted or recycled in Mountain View's collection program. The Food Service Ware Ordinance, along with new State legislation, will reduce the amount of disposable foodware generated in Mountain View and help divert single-use items from landfill.  

Summary of state and city foodware regulations 

effective July 1, 2014:

  • Food Providers in Mountain View are prohibited from dispensing food and beverages prepared on the premises for dine-in or take-out to customers using polystyrene foam food service ware. Prepackaged foods in foam cups or trays, such as cups of noodles, raw eggs, meat, fish or poultry, are not affected by the regulations.(Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance)
  • Retailers in Mountain View are prohibited from selling polystyrene foam food service ware and coolers such as foam cups, plates, or ice chests. (Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance)

effective January 1, 2022:

  • Food providers may only provide food service ware accessories (utensils, straws, stirrers, etc.) and standard condiments packaged for single use upon consumer request. Bulk condiment dispensers and accessory dispensers that dispense a single item at a time are acceptable. (AB 1276)

effective January 1, 2023:

  • Food Providers may not provide straws, stirrers or toothpicks made of plastic (including "compostable" plastics), with the exception that plastic straws may be provided upon request to those with medical needs. (Food Service Ware Ordinance)
  • All non-reusable food service ware (plates, bowls, boxes, cups, clamshells and other containers) used by Food Providers must be compostable in the City's organics program or made entirely of aluminum, which is accepted in the City's recycling program. Compostable food service ware must be certified as free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by a City-approved third party such as the Biodegradable Products Institute. Plastic food service ware, including compostable plastics, will not be allowed. (Food Service Ware Ordinance)
  • The distribution or sale of disposable food service ware made of paper, paperboard or other natural fiber containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is prohibited by State law. (AB 1200)

"Food Provider" means any establishment, vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual located or operating in the City of Mountain View that offers prepared food or beverages, regardless of whether there is a charge for the prepared food. Similar to the existing Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance, the new requirements for food service ware would not apply to prepackaged food.  

food service ware ordinance

The Food Service Ware Ordinance was adopted by the City Council on December 14, 2021, as part of the City's Zero Waste Plan. An ordinance to address single-use plastics was originally recommended by the second Environmental Sustainability Task Force, a Council Advisory Body of appointed community members, in their Final Report to the City Council in June 2018.

More information:

The intent of the Food Service Ware Ordinance is to: 

  1. Reduce the amount of landfilled waste from single-use plastics. Plastic food service ware and accessory items are not recyclable or compostable in Mountain View's programs, and must be landfilled. Compostable plastics are not compatible with the composting process at the commercial facility used for the City's organic material. Fiber-based food service ware can be composted and aluminum food service ware can be recycled in Mountain View's programs.     
  2. Protect the health of our community members. Some food service ware contains fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS that pose a risk to human and animal health. These chemicals are commonly added to products to improve their resistance to water and/or grease, but have been linked to serious health effects. 
  3. Reduce plastic pollution in waterways and oceans. Plastic pollution in our waterways and the ocean poses a significant threat to the marine environment's health. Plastic (both traditional and compostable) food service ware is a major contributor to ocean and beach litter throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  

new state laws regulating disposable food service ware

On October 5, 2021, the Governor signed two bills that regulate single-use food service ware in California. Beginning January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 1276 requires food facilities to only provide food service ware accessories (utensils, straws, stirrers, etc.) and standard condiments packaged for single use upon consumer request. Food providers may not proactively offer these items to consumers except for drive-through orders. Food ordering platforms, including third-party delivery services, must provide consumers an option to affirmatively request each accessory or standard condiment. Accessories must be provided individually and cannot be packaged together. Self-service dispensers that dispense one accessory at a time and self-serve bulk condiment dispensers are acceptable. This provision was in the City's Zero Waste Plan as part of the updated Food Service Ware ordinance, but is not included in the recommended ordinance since it is now state law. However, the City is charged with enforcing these requirements under AB 1276.

Beginning January 1, 2023, AB 1200 will prohibit the sale or distribution of food packaging or food service ware made from paper, paperboard or other natural fiber that contains PFAS. PFAS are toxic additives used to coat paper or fiber-based food service ware to improve water or grease resistance. These "forever chemicals" are a health concern because they do not break down in the environment or in the human body and can accumulate over time. 

POLYSTYRENE FOAM FOOD service WARE ordinance

The City originally adopted a Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance on March 25, 2014, to reduce polystyrene plastic in waterways and comply with regional water quality control requirements. The ordinance was replaced by the current Food Service Ware Ordinance on December 14, 2021, which continues the existing prohibitions on the use or sale of polystyrene foam food service ware and coolers or ice chests. For details about the current regulations on food service ware, including polystyrene foam foodware, please see the Food Service Ware Ordinance section above. 

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