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City Ordinances & Laws
- Disposable Food Service Ware
- Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Ban
- SB 1383: CalRecycle Organics Regulations
- Single Use Plastic Bag Ban
On September 14, 2021, the City of San Bruno (City) adopted the Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance (Ordinance) that mirrors the County of San Mateo’s (County) foodware ordinance. This Ordinance aims to regulate and reduce the amount of disposable plastic foodware and other foodware waste that are used and distributed in San Bruno. The Ordinance’s implementation and enforcement start date is October 1, 2022. Education and enforcement of the Ordinance are being headed by the County of San Mateo’s Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the City.
The objectives of the Ordinance are to:
- Reduce waste by eliminating disposable foodware that is not reusable or compostable;
- Improve the health and safety of community members; and
- Help keep our waterways clean and safe.
Who will this impact?
This Ordinance will apply to restaurants, mobile food trucks, temporary food facilities (e.g., street fairs, festivals, etc.), farmers’ markets, catering operations, private schools, and other operations that operate within the City and provide prepared food (a.k.a. ready-to-eat food and beverages) to the general public.
Key elements of the Ordinance include requiring:
- Most disposable foodware to be non-plastic, fiber-based (e.g., paper, bamboo, sugarcane, etc.), and compostable;
- Larger disposable foodware items such as bowls, plates, and clamshells need to be free of harmful perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Please note: Starting on January 1, 2023, the State will expand this requirement to ALL disposable foodware made of fiber, including accessories (e.g., straws, utensils, napkins, stirrers, etc.), paper bags, and food contact paper; and
- The distribution of disposable foodware accessories (e.g., straws, utensils, napkins, stirrers, spill plugs, etc.) is only allowed when requested by the consumer and/or with dispensers that distribute one item at a time. Open containers/bins holding disposable accessories for consumers to grab-and-go are no longer allowed. Disposable accessories cannot be bundled together, and they must be distributed individually as separate items (e.g., each fork, spoon, straw, condiment, etc.).
Resources Available to Impacted Food Facilities
- County of San Mateo's Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance (PDF)
- County of San Mateo’s Model Foodware Ordinance Summary (English / Spanish / Chinese / Tagalog)
- Ordinance Requirements Table (English / Spanish / Chinese / Tagalog)
- Implementation Checklist (English / Spanish / Chinese / Tagalog)
- Purchasing Guide listing acceptable disposable and reusable foodware
FAQs, outreach materials (e.g., tent cards, employee training guide, etc.), and other resources for food facilities are available at the County of San Mateo’s Foodware Aware Program website.
Free technical assistance is available for food facilities to help meet the requirements of the Ordinance as well as go beyond the requirements and switch to reusable foodware. Up to $300 is available for food facilities who are interested in switching from disposable to reusable foodware!
Please contact the Foodware Aware Team for additional information:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hotline: 888-442-2666
Information for the Public
- Understand what the new Ordinance requires with this Ordinance Summary (Spanish translation) or 2-page Flier (Spanish / Chinese / Tagalog translation).
- Request disposable accessories like straws, stirrers, napkins, and condiment packets only when absolutely needed.
- Take only what you really need at self-serve stations and dispensers.
- Bring and use your own reusables (utensils, straws, to-go mugs, leftover containers, etc.) instead of single-use disposables.
- Properly sort and dispose of foodware (check your local recycling and composting hauler/facility’s guidelines).
- Make sure your favorite restaurants and other food facilities are in compliance with the Ordinance (let us know if they aren’t). See dates and areas in San Mateo County where the Ordinance will be enforced.
- Send a letter to food facility owners/managers encouraging them to be plastic-free. View a template letter here.
Effective April 1, 2010, food vendors using disposable food service ware are prohibited from dispensing prepared food to customers in disposable food service ware made from polystyrene.
SB 1383: Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Senate Bill 1383: Short-lived Climate Pollutants is part of a statewide effort to reduce the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (like methane gas) in various sectors of California's economy. SB 1383 establishes specific statewide targets:
- Reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills (50% reduction by 2020 and 75% by 2025)
- Reduce at least 20% of edible food that is currently going to landfills by 2025 and redirect it to people in need
Organic waste is food, landscape trimmings, lumber, cardboard, paper products, and other plant and animal based products.
The California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) finalized the regulations to achieve the goals of SB 1383 in November 2020 and these regulations take effect in January 2022.
The State has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve health, and create clean jobs that support resilient local economies. Organic waste makes up half of what Californians send to landfills, where it emits 20% of the state's methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Implementing the statewide plan under SB 1383 will reduce methane emissions and is essential to achieving California's climate goals.
What does this mean for residents?
Single-family homes in San Bruno are already enrolled in Recology's composting program. Residents must compost all organic waste in their green bins.
Multifamily building owners need to enroll in Recology's composting program. Recology will provide multifamily buildings with the necessary green composting bins and outreach materials for tenants. Contact Recology to set up composting.
What does this mean for businesses?
All businesses are required to set up a composting service and provide labeled collection bins for organic waste and recyclables next to trashcans for employees, tenants, and customers. Contact Recology to set up composting.
Food Recovery Program
Edible food recovery is the act of diverting surplus edible food from businesses, organizations, or events that otherwise would have been disposed of for consumption by members of our community. If you are a large, food-generating business or organization you have new edible food recovery requirements under SB 1383.
The good news is that San Bruno has joined with San Mateo County's 22 other jurisdictions to create one countywide edible food recovery program to help all affected businesses and organizations meet their new mandatory requirements. This program is managed by the County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability and has recovered millions of food to date!
Visit the County's Edible Food Recovery Program page for additional information and resources.
Organics Collection Waiver
Starting January 1, 2022, all businesses and multi-family properties (apartments/condominiums) are required to subscribe to compostable/organic waste (e.g., food scraps, dirty paper containers, paper towels and tissues, plants, and other compostable products) and recycling collection services, unless they have an approved waiver or an alternative service (such as back-haul, self-haul, shared service, or third-party service provider).
There are two types of waivers offered:
1. Minimal generation waivers (de minimis) – for businesses that generate a minimal amount of compostable/organic waste or recyclables. There are two thresholds for qualifying, depending on the amount of waste your business* generates:
Amount of Waste your Business* Generates
(Garbage and recycling combined)
Threshold to Qualify for a Minimal Generation Waiver
Less than 2 cubic yards of total weekly service
Generate no more than 10 gallons of compostable/organic waste per week
2 or more cubic yards of total weekly service
Generate no more than 20 gallons of compostable/organic waste per week
*Please note: Multifamily properties are not eligible for de minimis generation waivers.
2. Physical space waivers – for businesses and multifamily properties where there are physical space constraints that prohibit the addition of recycling or compost containers.
Complete the form linked below if you believe your site may qualify for a waiver of the requirement to subscribe to compost/organics collection service.
Once a waiver request is received, City staff will review the request and supporting documentation and within 10 days either approve, deny, or follow-up with the request as needed (via the contact information provided under the waiver “Certification” section).
Customers with an approved waiver will not be required to subscribe to compost and recycling service for a 5-year period.
Businesses and multi-family properties that do not have recycling and compost collection service through Recology San Bruno or alternative service, and do not have an approved waiver are subject to enforcement actions and fines beginning January 1, 2024.
If you have questions about the waiver process, please contact Ana Morales at: email@example.com.
Effective April 22, 2013, the San Bruno Reusable Bag Ordinance launched, requiring that retailers no longer provide customers with single-use plastic carry-out bags.