SF Foodware & Packaging Ordinance

USA's strictest ban on Styrofoam: foodware, packaging, coolers, toys, buoys and more (Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance), 2016

San Francisco, CA

2016-08 SF styrofoam ban.png

How IT can benefit you

Styrene in foam foodware can leach into food and drink can cause cancer in humans. And polystyrene foam breaks into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are eaten by animals, which can harm or kill them.

The 2007 San Francisco Food Waste Reduction Ordinance banned Styrofoam foodware and required the use of compostable or recyclable foodware.  A plastic-like product does not compost unless it has a logo of these certifiers: Biodegradable Products Institute, Din Certco AIB Vinçotte Inter (Belgium), Japan Bioplastics Association or Australian Environmental Labeling Association.  So prohibited bags and foodware include ones with unsubstantiated claims like “green”, “environmentally friendly,” “biodegradable,” “degradable,” “will decompose,” “photodegradable,” “made from corn starch.”  They have not been tested for compostability.

The 2016 ordinance bans everyone from selling or distributing these things starting 2017:

  • Any foodware that is not either compostable or recyclable by the City  
  • Meat and fish trays and egg cartons
  • Packing materials including shipping boxes and packing peanuts
  • Coolers, ice chests, similar containers
  • Pool or beach toys
  • Dock floats, mooring buoys, navigation markers

Why this is a leading policy

The 2007 ordinance had the most comprehensive list of acceptable compostable and recyclable foodware compared to other food ban ordinances.

The 2016 Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction ordinance bans the most foam products in the USA.


Protect our health and environment by creating zero waste.

Who can take action

Anyone can help violators get a friendly reminder.


City litter audits from 2007 to 2009 showed that there was a 41% decrease in Styrofoam use.

Public Outreach & Education

San Francisco Department of the Environment provides assistance to food providers through:


Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator, San Francisco Department of the Environment, 415-355-3752, Jack.Macy@sfgov.org

Last Updated

August 1, 2016