News Details

Polystyrene Restriction Ordinance

Effective March 1, 2016 retailers may not sell or distribute plastic foam ice chests, foodware, packaging materials and egg cartons.

The City of Palo Alto recently adopted revisions to a 2009 ordinance to prohibit the retail sale or distribution of plastic foam ice chests, egg cartons, foodware and packaging materials. Plastic foam (e.g., Styrofoam™ and similar products) is one of the most prevalent forms of litter found in local creeks and San Francisco Bay. Effective March 1, 2016 retailers may not sell or distribute plastic foam ice chests, foodware, packaging materials or egg cartons. Restaurants must still comply with 2009 ordinance requirements which prohibit the use or distribution of plastic foam foodware.   

The requirements of the Plastic Foam Ordinance are one of several measures implemented by City of Palo Alto Public Works Department–Watershed Protection to meet strict stormwater permit requirements that are aimed to protect community creeks and San Francisco Bay. This permit requires public agencies to reduce trash loads from storm sewer systems to no adverse impact by 2022. More than 90 cities and counties throughout California have adopted ordinances restricting plastic foam in some capacity either at restaurants or to also include retail. 



Information for Retailers


Staff Reports

    
Staff Presentation to City Council on proposed plastic foam ordinance (November 9, 2015)
 
   
Staff Report #5980, November 9, 2015
    Staff Report 201:01, April 27, 2009
    Staff Report 206:10, April 19, 2010
    Negative Declaration for Draft Expanded Polystyrene Ordinance


Additional Information

    San Francisco Estuary Institute Study
    
Eight percent of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay is from plastic foam.
    (Microplastic Factsheet, http://www.sfei.org/microplasticsSan Francisco Estuary Institute
    Rebecca Sutton 2015)  
    
 
    
    
Food Service Establishment Factsheet on 2009 Expanded Polystyrene Ordinance Requirements

  

City Manager Reports

    CMR 201:01 dated April 27, 2009
    CMR 206:10 dated April 19, 2010

        

For additional ordinance information contact Julie Weiss, 650.329.2117, or email Julie.weiss@cityofpaloalto.org
        

Last Updated May 22, 2015