Polystyrene Foam & Disposable Food Ware Ordinance Exemptions

Are there exemptions?

A City Manager (or designee) may exempt a food provider, retail vendor or special event for the ordinance requirements for a one-year period upon showing the ordinance creates an undue hardship. A food provider, retail vendor or special promoter granted an exemption must reapply prior to the end of the one-year exemptions period and demonstrate continued undue hardship if it wishes to have the exemption extended. Exemptions are granted for intervals not to exceed one year.

What is compostable and recyclable?

Compostable means products made entirely from natural plant fibers such as paper, bamboo, wood, sugarcane, and wheat. These products must be accepted at the industrial or municipal facilities that aerobically compost Sonoma County’s food scraps and yard debris. For the purposes of this ordinance, products that contain or are coated with plastic polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) or polyethylene (PE) are not compostable. Recyclable means using discarded materials to manufacture a new product. Recycling involves altering the physical form of an object or material and making a new object from the altered material.

Which products are exempt?

  • Foods prepared or packaged outside the jurisdiction. However, all vendors of pre-packaged items are encouraged to follow the ordinance.
  • Disposable food ware compostable or recyclable through Sonoma County’s commercial recycling programs.
  • Products containing polystyrene foam which pose a small risk of becoming litter.
  • Reusable polystyrene foam used for insulating or flotation purposes and is completely encased in more durable material. Examples include surfboards, boats, life preservers, construction materials, craft supplies and durable coolers not principally composed of polystyrene foam.
  • Packaging for meat and fish.

Exemption Request Form

Please complete this form if you would like to apply on behalf of an event or establishment for a one-year product exemption under the Disposable Food Service Ware and Polystyrene Ordinance.

Select all that apply (Hold CTRL key to select/deselect multiple options)
Select all that apply (Hold CTRL key to select/deselect multiple exemptions)
Describe the undue hardship or practical difficulty if selected as an exemption request type.
Upload evidence of undue hardship (up to 3 files)