Food Service Ware Regulations

foodware regulations

To meet our zero waste goals, in fall 2021, the City Council adopted a Food Service Ware Ordinance to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste and litter generated in Mountain View. The new ordinance expands the existing ban on polystyrene foam food service ware to other types of single-use plastics to ensure that most types of disposable foodware can be composted or recycled in Mountain View's collection program. The City's ordinance, along with new State legislation, will reduce the amount of disposable foodware generated in Mountain View and help divert single-use items from the landfill.  

state and city foodware regulations summary

effective July 1, 2014:

  • Food Providers in Mountain View are prohibited from providing food and beverages to customers using polystyrene foam foodware. Prepackaged foods in foam cups or trays, such as cups of noodles, raw eggs, meat, fish or poultry, are exempt.(Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance)
  • Retailers in Mountain View are prohibited from selling polystyrene foam foodware (e.g. cups, plates, etc.) and coolers or ice chests. (Polystyrene Foam Food Service Ware Ordinance)

effective January 1, 2022:

  • Food facilities are prohibited from providing foodware accessories (utensils, chopsticks, straws, stirrers, splash sticks and cocktail sticks) and standard condiments packaged for single use unless requested by the consumer. (State Assembly Bill 1276)

effective January 1, 2023:

  • All non-reusable foodware (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. Non-reusable plastic foodware is prohibited, including compostable plastic. (City of Mountain View Food Service Ware Ordinance)
  • Compostable foodware used by Food Providers must be certified as free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by a City-approved third party. State law prohibits the distribution or sale of disposable foodware made of paper, paperboard or other natural fiber that contains PFAS. (City of Mountain View Food Service Ware Ordinance and State Assembly Bill 1200). 
  • Food Providers may not provide straws, stirrers, toothpicks or food picks made of plastic (including "compostable" plastic), with the exception of plastic straws on request to those with medical needs. (City of Mountain View Food Service Ware Ordinance)

"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 foodware would not apply to prepackaged food.  

city foodware 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 foodware 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 and also end up in the trash. Fiber-based foodware can be composted and aluminum foodware can be recycled in Mountain View's programs.     
  2. Protect the health of our community members. Some foodware 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) foodware is a major contributor to ocean and beach litter throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  

new state laws regulating disposable foodware

On October 5, 2021, the Governor signed two bills that regulate disposable foodware in California. Effective January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 1276 prohibits food facilities from providing single-use foodware accessories and standard condiments packaged for single use except upon consumer request. Accessories and condiments cannot be bundled or packaged together. AB 1276 applies to all food facilities except those at correctional institutions, health care facilities, residential care facilities, and public and private school cafeterias.

The City is the authorized local enforcement agency for AB 1276. Visit the Food Facilities page for more information about these regulations.

Beginning January 1, 2023, Assembly Bill 1200 will prohibit the sale or distribution of food packaging and foodware made from paper, paperboard or other natural fiber that contains regulated perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are added to foodware to improve water and grease resistance. These "forever chemicals" do not break down in the environment or in the human body and can accumulate over time, and are linked to serious health effects. Businesses that sell disposable food packaging and foodware must ensure their paper and fiber-based products do not contain PFAS. 

Resources for Food Facilities

Visit the Food Facilities page for more information on how to comply with City and State foodware regulations and additional resources, including:

  • AB 1276 Fact Sheets
  • Free Reusable Foodware Technical Assistance program
  • Compliant foodware purchasing guide
  • List of items exempt from the City's Foodware Ordinance
  • How to obtain a waiver from Foodware Ordinance regulations
  • Sample "single-use items on request" signage

enforcement

The City will respond to reported violations of AB 1276 and, beginning January 1, 2023, the Foodware Ordinance. City staff will provide information to assist food facilities in complying with applicable foodware regulations and resolving any violations. Repeated AB 1276 violations shall result in fines as outlined in Public Resources Code Section 42272. Repeated violations of the City's Foodware Ordinance may result in fines or other penalties described in the City Code.

The City will post information about how to report a violation of foodware regulations on this page.

POLYSTYRENE FOAM FOODWARE 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 foodware, including polystyrene foam foodware, please see the Food Service Ware Ordinance section above. 

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