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
- Ordinance Summary and Frequently Asked Questions
- Plastic Foam Ordinance 5371
- Cash Register Placard
- Plastic Foam Ordinance Stakeholder Presentation
- Notification letter sent to all Palo Alto businesses in May 2015
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
San Francisco Estuary Institute Study
Eight percent of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay is from plastic foam.
(Microplastic Factsheet, http://www.sfei.org/microplastics, San Francisco Estuary Institute,
Rebecca Sutton 2015)
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.email@example.com
Last Updated: May 22, 2015