City of El Cerrito Foodware Ordinance
EXPANDED FOODWARE ORDINAnCE
The City of El Cerrito adopted a Foodware Ordinance in 2013 to prohibit expanded polystyrene foam (“styrofoam”) take-out containers, and require the use of reusable, recyclable, or compostable foodware. In 2021, the City proposed changes to the municipal code to phase out all single-use plastic foodware items in the city and encourage the use of reusable and compostable containers to help protect waterways, promote environmental sustainability, and reduce waste. The changes were approved by the City Council on November 16, 2021, applicable to all food providers in the city and prohibiting products such as non-compostable, non-reusable, straws, eating utensils, and food containers. Food providers are defined to include vendors, businesses, organizations, entities, groups, or individuals, including any restaurant or retail food establishment, and any provider of prepared food at organized or special events, in El Cerrito.
City Staff gathered input in order to develop the new ordinance. This included letters and in-person outreach to over 100 impacted businesses, hosting multiple public meetings, print and online outreach efforts, and engaging with stakeholders from the business community, the Environmental Quality Committee, and the City’s ADA Working group. Following the adoption of the amended ordinance, the City will be providing a brochure to all affected businesses and food providers with instructions on how to comply. The City will provide FREE technical training to businesses and food providers before pursuing any enforcement actions.
For more information about the new Expanded Foodware Ordinance contact Will Provost at (510) 559-7684 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Find details below about:
new requirements adopted - effective july 1, 2022 - enforced JAN 1, 2024
- Signed (Codified) Ordinance (November 29, 2021)
- Draft Ordinance (November 2, 2021)
- City Council Staff Report
- Presentation to City Council (November 2, 2021)
- Who will be required to comply with the updated ordinance
- Timeline for adoption and implementation
- Why the City is updating the ordinance
- How to know what disposable foodware is compostable
- Who to contact with questions
WHO IS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH THE UPDATED ORDINANCE?
All food providers located or operating within the City of El Cerrito and any provider of prepared food at organized or special events occurring within the city will be required to comply with the updated ordinance. The City will help food providers by providing technical assistance prior to any enforcement action and build public awareness to support a smooth transition. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, delicatessens, mobile food preparation and sale units, drive-ins, coffee shops, cafeterias, short-order cafes, luncheonettes, grills, sandwich shops, hotels, motels, movie houses, theatres, bed and breakfast inns, taverns, bars, cocktail lounges, nightclubs, roadside stands, take-out prepared food places, industrial feeding establishments, catering kitchens, commissaries, special events, food markets, produce stands, and food stands.
WHEN WILL THE FOODWARE ORDINANCE UPDATES TAKE PLACE?
TIMELINE FOR TRANSITION
HOW CAN I GIVE FEEDBACK OR LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TRANSITION?
Food establishments are invited to schedule a visit or consultation with the City to receive information, ask questions to know how you will be affected, or share your thoughts.
For more information about the proposed Expanded Foodware Ordinance, or to submit comments, contact Will Provost at (510) 559-7684 or email@example.com.
WHY IS THE CITY OF EL CERRITO MAKING THESE CHANGES TO THE FOODWARE ORDINANCE?
In addition, single-use plastic and “styrofoam” products have increasingly been identified as having harmful effects to the environment and human health. For example, single use plastic foodware products:
- Take a long time to decompose. This is a problem in landfills and in our environment and waterways. Many of the products are lightweight and buoyant and end up floating to the ocean from creeks and storm drains. Once in the ocean they can be harmful to marine life as they are mistaken for food and ingested.
- Partially breakdown when filled with hot foods or liquids, which results in chemicals entering our bodies because they come into contact with our food and drinks.
- Can only be recycled in limited recycling markets, often are “contaminated” with food waste, and are expensive to recycle. Furthermore, changes in the international recycling markets have made it challenging and costly to recycle single-use plastic containers.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH DISPOSABLE FOODWARE PRODUCTS MEET THE CITY’S REQUIREMENTS FOR COMPOSTING?
The City will provide more specific information about approved products, and food providers can visit this website to search for specific products or vendors that provide compostable materials: https://www.bpiworld.org/Find-Certified-Products.
To comply with the Foodware Ordinance, disposable foodware products must be able to be composted through the City’s available composting and green waste collection programs and include no intentionally added fluorinated chemicals. There are some plastic products on the market that are biodegradable, meaning, they break down and decompose in the environment. However, the Foodware Ordinance would not allow any plastic products, even if they are biodegradable, because these do not break down well in the City’s commercial green waste program. To make sure the disposable foodware you provide in the future will work in the City’s composting system, look for products that:
- Are BPI Certified.
- Meet the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International standards D6400 or D6868 for compostable materials.
- Are made of paper, bamboo, sugar cane, or other natural materials that can be composted.
Plastic or bioplastic foodware will be prohibited, including bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, straws, stirrer, lids, utensils, and other items that are designed for one-time use for prepared foods, including foodware for take-out foods and/or leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by food providers.
City staff also provide free training and guidance. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 559-7686 for more information.
Contact Operations and Environmental Services Acting Division Manager, Will Provost at (510) 559-7684 or
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
- Mandatory Recycling and Composting & Proposed Expanded Foodware Ordinance (Public Meeting Slides, September 2021)
- View our brochure (coming soon)
- 2013 Foodware Ordinance
- Sustainable Suppliers List
- Food Ware Ordinance Factsheet - English
- Food Ware Ordinance Factsheet - Spanish
- Food Ware Ordinance Factsheet - Mandarin
Retailers or consumers who have any questions about these new regulations are encouraged to call the El Cerrito Operations + Environmental Services Division at 510-215-4350.