Our City Council has made changes to the Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging and Products Ordinance which go into effect on Nov. 7. The revisions require food service businesses to change all to-go food service ware to items that are biodegradable, compostable or recyclable in the City of Santa Cruz recycling program. This includes food containers, beverage lids, cutlery and straws.


Acceptable containers


There is a six month grace period for businesses to use up existing inventory and change all disposable food service ware to environmentally acceptable packaging.

  • Plastic cutlery is not allowed, however, compostable cutlery is acceptable.
  • Plastic straws are not allowed, however, compostable straws such as those made of paper are acceptable.
  • Plastic stir sticks are not allowed, however, wood stir sticks are acceptable.
  • Polystyrene #6 products including hot beverage lids are not allowed.
  • The definition of the term “polystyrene” is expanded to include clear or solid polystyrene which is known as “oriented polystyrene.” (This is a newer form of polystyrene that was not addressed in the original ordinance. )



  • Food providers may only give straws, lids, cutlery and to-go condiment packages upon request of the customer.

Food service providers are also encouraged to charge a take-out fee of $.25 for disposable cups, lids, straws, stirrers and/or utensils to offset any cost difference of biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food service ware. Food service providers are also encouraged to provide a $.25 credit for customers bringing their own reusable containers for to-go items.




These changes will aid in the City’s duty to protect its natural environment, economy and citizens’ health.


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To view the revised ordinance, related business brochure and biodegradable product vendor list, visit:   www.cityofsantacruz.com/polystyrene.

City Beat

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