Disposable Food Service Ware

Comparison of Accepted and Not Accepted Items

The City of Burlingame is considering participating in an effort led by the County of San Mateo’s Environmental Health Division and the County’s Office of Sustainability (OOS) to reduce the amount of single-use disposable food ware in our city. This is a significant issue for our community and others because over 1.3 million pounds of trash enter the San Francisco Bay ever year, and 80% of plastic pollution consists of single-use food and beverage packaging.

One way that the City would like to address this issue is by reducing the amount of single-use disposable items in food service ware through the adoption of a Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance. We would like your input on whether you think the City of Burlingame should adopt this ordinance or something similar. Note: the County's ordinance has not been finalized yet, and the City's final version may differ from the County's ordinance.

The objectives of the proposed ordinance are to:

  1. Eliminate the unnecessary distribution and use of disposable food service ware that is not reusable or compostable;
  2. Improve the health and safety of our community by eliminating disposable food service ware that is harmful; and
  3. Help meet our stormwater permit requirements by reducing litter on our streets that ends up in the San Francisco Bay.

Who will this impact?

  • Food facilities - any vendor, business, organization, entity, group, or individual that provides prepared food for public consumption. Examples: restaurants, mobile food facilities, temporary food facilities, farmers markets, etc.

How will this impact food facilities?

  • Accessories (e.g., straws, stirrers, cup spill plugs, etc.) - provided to consumers only upon request or at self-serve stations/dispensers.
  • Straws, stirrers, utensils, and cocktail/toothpicks - no plastics allowed. Acceptable materials include fiber-based products such as paper, wood, bamboo, etc. 
  • Plates, bowls, cups, food trays, clamshells, and other take-out containers - no plastics allowed. Acceptable materials include fiber-based materials that breakdown in an industrial composting facility and are free of added fluorinated chemicals.
  • Exemptions are available for aluminum foil and medical accommodations. See ordinance for exact details.

Your Feedback Results:
The City launched an online survey which was open from mid-August through September 30, 2019. During this time we received 332 unique responses. Below is a summary of the survey results and some facts about the plastic pollution issue.

If you would like to stay up-to-date on this effort please sign up for our Disposable Food Service Ware Mailing List.

Disposable Food Service Ware Survey Results