Disposable Foodware Ordinance
Compostable Produce Bag Requirement - What your business needs to know
Disposable Foodware Items Ordinance - What your business needs to know
Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 5.30
Switch To Reusables - Palo Alto's long term plan
Palo Alto Unified School District Starts Using Reusables - Video highlighting their switch to reusable foodware
Reducing Takeout Waste - Video explaining the problem and solutions
The City adopted changes to the Bag Ordinance and established the Disposable Foodware Items and Other Disposable Products Ordinance on June 24, 2019.
Effective January 1, 2020 the following items are not allowed in Palo Alto:
Plastic Beverage Plugs
Plastic Produce Bags
There are a variety of resources available to help you comply with the ordinance.
Purchasing Guide – a guide to help you choose alternatives that comply with the ordinance.
Upon Request Sign – put this out to alert customers that they need to request straws, utensils and other items.
Technical Assistance: For technical assistance including site visits, staff trainings, Zero Waste best practices, and educational materials (e.g., signage, flyers), contact GreenWaste of Palo Alto at (650) 493-4894 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Signage, Material Guides, and Other Tools: For signage, including a custom online sign making tool, service and material guides, videos and other helpful tools, visit our What Goes Where Tools page.
- Reusable - Reusable items are items that were meant to be washed and reused many times.
- Disposable - Disposable items are items that were meant to be used only once and then discarded. These items can be recyclable, compostable, or landfill.
- Compostable - Compostable items are items that are accepted in Palo Alto's compost program.
- Upon Request - Upon Request means offering foodware items to customers only if they ask for them or via a self-serve station.
- Produce Bag - Bags used to hold produce, meat, bulk food, or other food items.
What your business needs to know.
What is required:
Bags used to hold produce, meat, bulk food, or other food items must be acceptable in the City’s compost collection program.
The City’s compost program accepts paper bags and bags made of compostable plastic if they meet the ASTM Standard Specifications for compostability (D6400 or D6868), or the product is Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified.
Use up your non-compostable bag inventory before January 1, 2020.
Who is affected:
All retail service establishments and farmers markets that use produce bags as defined above are affected. This includes grocery stores, markets, and farmers markets.
What your business needs to know
Plastic utensils, straws, stirrers, drink plugs,and other small plastic foodware items.
Use up your non-compostable disposable foodware items inventory before January 1, 2020.
Who is affected:
All food service establishments will be affected. This includes restaurants, bars, delis, grocery stores, food trucks, hotels, convenience stores —anyone serving food in Palo Alto.
What is required:
- Use only reusable or compostable utensils, straws, stirrers, drink plugs, and other small plastic foodware items.
- Compostable items must be acceptable in the City's compost collection program. Detailed list of acceptable materials
- Offer these disposable items (i.e., the compostable items) only upon request or via a self-serve station.
Palo Alto's long-term plan
Palo Alto’s long-term plan is to eliminate the use of disposable foodware items. Disposable foodware items are those created to be used once then discarded. They even include items made from recyclable or compostable materials. Free technical assistance is available to help your business switch to reusable items. Contact Zero Waste Palo Alto for more information.
After Labor Day 2019, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Food Services began serving student meals at elementary school sites using reusable dishware and cutlery. This transition, which will be the first phase in a multi-phase plan to move all sites to reusable food service items, will keep PAUSD in alignment with the City of Palo Alto’s zero waste goals. Students, who are already familiar with the three sort waste system, will return their reusable food service items to rolling carts outfitted with red bins which will be added to three sort stations at their campuses. PAUSD anticipates significant waste reduction as a result of this move to reusables.
Reducing Takeout Waste
Check out this Vox video. It does a good job explaining the problem and solutions to takeout waste.