Polystyrene Foodware Ordinance


The purpose of the Ordinance is to reduce polystyrene in waterways and comply with regional water quality control requirements. The Mountain View City Council adopted the Ordinance on March 25, 2014 and became effective on July 1, 2014.

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.
  • Retailers in Mountain View are prohibited from selling polystyrene foam service ware and coolers such as foam cups, plates or ice chests. Prepackaged foods in foam cups or trays, such as cups of noodles, raw eggs, meat, fish or poultry, are not affected by the Ordinance.

“Food Provider” means a vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual that offers food or beverages to the public for consumption on or off premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for food, such as a: restaurant, bar, pub, caterer, cafeteria, coffee shop, deli, liquor or convenience store, grocery, mobile food truck, push-cart, sidewalk or other outdoor vendor, road-side stand, festival or any retail food establishment.

Key Provisions of Polystyrene “Foam” Food Service Ware Ordinance

  • On or after July 1, 2014, a food provider, located in or operating within the city of Mountain View, shall not dispense prepared food to a customer using polystyrene foam food service ware. This prohibition does not apply to prepackaged food.
  • Sale of polystyrene foam food service ware, and foam ice chests/coolers which are not fully encapsulated or encased, are prohibited from being sold at stores in Mountain View.
  • Customer means a person obtaining prepared food from a food provider.
  • Food provider means any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual that offers food or beverages to the public for consumption on or off premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food. “Food provider” includes, but is not limited to, any: restaurant, bar, pub, coffee shop, caterer, cafeteria, grocery store, supermarket, delicatessen, liquor store, convenience store, mobile food truck, sidewalk or other outdoor vendor, push-cart, road-side stand, festival, or any retail food establishment.
  • Food service ware means containers that are used, or intended to be used, to hold or serve hot or cold prepared food, such as a cup, bowl, plate, tray, carton, or clamshell container (lid is hinged to the bottom); and are made from expanded or extruded polystyrene (EPS). They are sometimes referred to as polystyrene, EPS, or Styrofoam, and may have a #6 resin code on the bottom and are usually white in color.
  • Prepackaged food means properly labeled processed food sold or otherwise provided by a food vendor that arrives at the premises of the food vendor in a container or wrapper in which the food is wholly encased, enclosed, contained or packaged and is not removed from such container or wrapper (other than an outer container or wrapper that encloses multiple units of food) before its sale or provision at the premises.
  • Prepared food means any food or beverage that is packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared for consumption, including, but not limited to, ready-to-eat and take-out food. Food exempted includes raw eggs, raw, butchered meat, fish or poultry that is sold from a butcher case or a similar retail appliance, except when such food is provided for consumption without further food preparation.
  • A Hardship Exemption process may be included in the ordinance which would allow a food provider to apply to delay compliance with the ordinance for a period of up to one year from the ordinance effective date, based on the demonstration of unique circumstances that would result in an undue economic hardship.
  • For Violations, a written warning may be provided for a first offense. Repeated non-compliance with the terms of the ordinance would be considered a Mountain View City Code violation, subject to warning, citation and/or fine.

See below for outreach to businesses and other establishments which may be affected.