Jurisdictions in Sonoma County have implemented or are considering a model ordinance, called the Ordinance
to Prohibit Use and Sale of Disposable Food Service Ware and Other Products Containing Polystyrene Foam, to ban the sale of certain polystyrene foam products and limit the use of non-recyclable or non-compostable disposable food ware.
The model ordinance addresses five areas:
In the jurisdictions where the model ordinance is adopted, the ordinance applies to those who sell or distribute disposable food ware and other specified products including food and beverage providers, retailers, and special events.
Examples include restaurants, bars, retail food vendors (including any store, shop, sales outlet, convenience store, grocery store, or deli), schools, faith-based organizations and food trucks operated within a jurisdiction. This ordinance also applies to city facilities (including lessees) and special events requiring a permit from the jurisdiction.
*See list below for product exemptions.
By customer request only.
By customer request only.
By customer request only.
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.
Alternatives include food service ware products that are compostable, recyclable or those that can be cleaned and reused.
For assistance in selecting alternative compliant food service ware products view the list below:
Replacements for polystyrene foam-based and disposal food ware products may be more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Food service vendors may choose to charge a separate fee for the compliant to-go packaging and products. The ordinance also allows food service establishments to charge a small fee to recoup the costs.
Encouraging your customers to bring their own containers both reduces waste and saves money. The ordinance encourages, but does not require, food service vendors to provide a rebate to customers who bring their own clean, reusable to-go containers.
The City Manager, or designee, has primary responsibility and will be looking for good-faith effort from affected entities.
Restricting the use of polystyrene foam and disposable food service ware reduces landfill waste generated by businesses and consumers reduces litter escaping into the natural environment, waterways, and ocean.
The proposed model ordinance is being considered for adoption individually by every jurisdiction in Sonoma County. Jurisdictions may approve changes to the model ordinance. Please confirm specific requirements within your jurisdiction.
Sebastopol was the first jurisdiction in Sonoma County to adopted the model ordinance. View the municipal code for more information.
ASTM standard means meeting the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standards D6400 or D6868 for biodegradable and compostable plastics, as may be amended.
Biodegradable means all materials in the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature, i.e., become part of usable compost and/or decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. “Biodegradable,” as used herein, shall include, but is not limited to, products that meet the then-applicable ASTM standards for compostability.
City/County/Town contractors and lessees means any person or entity that has a contract with the City/County/Town for works or improvements to be performed, for a franchise, concession or lease of property, for grant monies or goods and services or supplies to be purchased at the expense of the City/County/Town.
Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.
Disposable food service ware are designed for one-time use and include service ware for take-out foods and/or leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by food providers.
Examples of disposable food service ware:
*Lids as referred to in the ordinance requirements refer only to beverage container lids
Food providers means any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual, and including retail food establishments, located or providing food within the City/County/Town that offers food or beverage to the public.
Polystyrene foam means blown polystyrene foam and expanded and extruded foams (sometimes called StyrofoamTM) which are thermoplastic, petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of polymer spheres (expandable bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blown molding (extruded foam polystyrene). Polystyrene foam is generally used to make cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays and egg cartons.
Prepared food means food or beverages prepared for consumption on the food provider’s premises or within the City, using any cooking or food preparation technique. Prepared food includes food prepared for consumption off the food provider’s premises, also known as “take-out food.”
Recyclable means material that can be sorted, cleansed, and reconstituted using recycling collection programs available in Sonoma County for the purpose of using the altered form in the manufacture of a new product. Recycling does not include burning, incinerating, converting, or otherwise thermally destroying solid waste.
Retail vendor means any store or other business that sells goods or merchandise located or operating within the City/County/Town,
Reusable means materials that will be used more than once in its same form by the customer, retail vendor or other reuse program. Reusable food service ware includes: food and beverage containers, packages and trays, such as, but not limited to, soft drink bottles and milk containers that are designed to be returned to the distributor or reused by the customer and that are provided as take-out containers. Reusable also includes durable containers, packages or trays used on-premises, returnable containers brought back to the food vendor and those intended to be taken home by the consumer for reuse, including all containers, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, and other items that are designed for prolonged use, including, but not limited to, durable plastic, ceramic, glass, porcelain, and metal food service ware.
Special event promoters means an applicant for any special event permit issued by the City/County/Town , or any City/County/Town employee(s) responsible for any organized special event in the City/County/Town .
AB 619 was signed by the governor on July 12, 2019 and sets standards for handling customer-provided reusable food and drink containers for food service vendors, including food trucks.
Please check with Sonoma County Environmental Health, 707-565-6565, for rules specific for your business.
Please let us know how we can help your business comply with the model ordinance.