San Francisco Environment Department

Compostable Bags and Food Service Ware

Food Service Ware: In compliance with San Francisco's Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance, restaurants and other food service businesses must use compostable or recyclable food service containers and utensils. Food and drinks cannot be sold in styrofoam containers.

Bags: Effective October 1, 2012, San Francisco's Extended Bag Reduction Ordinance, requries that all retailers in San Francisco charge a minimum of 10 cents for each bag provided at checkout. Retailers must provide certified compostable, post-consumer recycled, or reusable bags at a charge. Shoppers can avoid this charge by bringing their own bag.

Commercial Business Products and Resources

  • Accepted: Compostable bags and food service ware accepted in San Francisco’s compost program must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute as "compostable," also referred to as "BPI Certified.
  • Not accepted: Bags and food service ware labeled “green”, “environmentally friendly”, “biodegradable”, “degradable”, “will decompose”, “photodegradable”, “made from corn starch”, or other unsubstantiated claims are not accepted. San Francisco's organics processing facility can only process acceptable items.


Tips for Commercial Businesses

  • Check product labelling: Accepted compostable products (bags, utensils, containers) must be labeled "compostable"; all mis-labeled products are considered landfill trash
  • Compostable bags: Businesses should check with their janitorial service provider or vendors to see if they have wholesale pricing for BPI Certified compostable bags. 
  • Liners: Businesses may use a plastic liner to collect compostable materials, but must empty the contents directly into their compost collection bin without the plastic liner.

Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance

city seal png