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Green Food Packaging Ordinance
Food service ware adds a huge amount of litter, blight and waste to our City. In addition, many food service ware products made from plastic may be hazardous to our health.
To make our City cleaner and healthier and to help our community achieve zero waste, the Oakland City Council has adopted a cutting-edge disposable food packaging ordinance. Similar ordinances are now being adopted throughout California.
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What does the new food packaging ordinance say?
- Oakland food vendors may no longer use polystyrene foam (such as Styrofoam) disposable food service ware.
- Oakland food vendors must change to biodegradable/compostable disposable food service ware as it becomes affordable (when it costs the same or less than the non-biodegradable/non-compostable disposables).
Who has to follow the food packaging ordinance?
All Oakland food vendors selling prepared food—including restaurants, delis, fast-food establishments, vendors at fairs and food trucks. All City facilities must also follow the ordinance.
What are the alternatives to polystyrene foam? What are biodegradable and compostable food service ware products?
- Coated and uncoated paper products, and some "bio-plastics".
- Other products listed by StopWaste.org: Bio-Based Products List.
Where can I purchase alternative food service ware products?
- Ask your current supplier to offer products that meet the City’s new requirements.
- Check this Distributors List for local and national suppliers.
What can my business do to reduce food service ware waste?
- Allow customers to bring their own mugs to buy drinks.
- Use reusable dishes and cups instead of disposable ones for eat-in customers.
- Start food-scraps recycling. Compostable food packaging, food scraps and many other items may currently fill your garbage bin. By recycling these, you may be able to reduce your garbage service. (See free recycling technical assistance, below)
What is wrong with polystyrene foam?
Polystyrene foam is made from crude oil. Like all conventional plastics, it is non-renewable, non-biodegradable and virtually non-recyclable. Polystyrene foam food service ware ends up in landfills, waterways or the ocean. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which are often mistaken for food and ingested by marine animals, birds and fish. Medical evidence also suggests that chemicals in polystyrene foam are carcinogenic and may leach into food or drink.
Free recycling technical assistance is available to your business from the City of Oakland.
The City's Small Business Recycling Service can help you to recycle more.
To schedule a free on-site visit, call the Oakland Recycling Hotline (510) 238-SAVE(7283) or email email@example.com.
Learn more about Oakland's Zero Waste goal at www.zerowasteoakland.com.
Back to Oakland Recycles Home Page