San Francisco Department of the Environment

Search form

Supervisor Katy Tang and the San Francisco Department of the Environment Propose Bold Plastics and Litter Reduction Ordinance to Help Clean San Francisco’s Streets and Waterways

(Left to right: Department of the Environment Director Debbie Raphael, Boba Guys Co-Owner Bin Chen, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Katy Tang, Supervisor Ahsha Safai)

SAN FRANCISCO – May 15, 2018 – Today, at Boba Guys on Fillmore Street, San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang announced legislation she will introduce at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting that will reduce litter on our streets, plastics in our Bay and toxics in our foodware. The proposed ordinance bans single-use plastic straws and other plastic foodware and represents the next important step in the City’s pursuit of zero waste. Joining Supervisor Tang at Boba Guys as supporters and co-sponsors were Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment Debbie Raphael, and co-founder of Boba Guys Bin Chen.

"Here in San Francisco, this is quite literally the last plastic straw. We need to step up and do something about our wasteful daily habits when there are other alternatives,” said San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang. “I am proud to introduce legislation today that will help reduce plastic pollution in our city so we can better keep our streets, our beaches, and our ocean free from plastic debris.”

In San Francisco’s paradigm of reduce, reuse and recycle/compost, unnecessary, single-use plastic foodware no longer belongs. Once disposed of, plastic persists and breaks down into smaller pieces and is often ingested by wildlife. The statistics are startling – in San Francisco alone, it is estimated that one million straws are used every day. In fact, single-use food and beverage packaging was found to be 67 percent of Bay Area street litter going into the Bay, and at current projections, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

“Single-use foodware and plastic straws have a significant negative impact on our health, our environment, and our streets,” said Board of Supervisors President London Breed. “Small changes like banning plastic straws can have a huge impact on our planet. It’s time to make better, more sustainable choices that will clean our waterways and enhance street cleanliness.”

The Plastic and Litter Reduction Ordinance will reduce the use of wasteful plastic by prohibiting the distribution and sale of plastic straws as well as plastic stir sticks, plastic toothpicks, and plastic splash sticks. The ordinance will also eliminate persistent toxic fluorinated chemicals from foodware products. Fluorinated chemicals are widely used on single-use foodware as a water and grease barrier and can migrate from foodware into food, water, and soil, posing a threat to human health and the environment. Additionally, the ordinance mandates that foodware designated for composting must be certified to be truly compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Finally, the initiative specifies that for any event over 100 attendees on City property, reusable cups must be supplied to 10% of the attendees.

“Millions of plastic straws are discarded annually and add to the tremendous waste in our society - we need to change people's behavior and provide a reusable option,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. “San Francisco will once again lead the way in positive environmental change to protect our planet.”

To implement the ordinance, the Department of the Environment is developing a comprehensive community outreach plan to raise awareness about this issue and help local vendors comply. Accordingly, the Department will conduct multilingual public outreach to assist local businesses with the requirements. The outreach program will also feature online resources to educate residents, visitors and businesses on the scope of the issue and how ordinance provisions will help the city achieve its environmental goals.

“Plastic foodware has become the omnipresent scourge on our streets, in our waterways and throughout our environment,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment. “It’s time to bring the era of disposability to a close; this new ordinance is the next step in our City’s larger strategy to encourage more sustainable choices and reduce the volume of discarded plastics and other pollutants.”

The legislation will be formally introduced to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 15. If approved by the Board and signed into law by the Mayor, the ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2019. Other cities implementing single-use plastic straw bans or restrictions include, but is not limited to, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Davis, San Luis Obispo, Malibu, Seattle, Miami Beach and Fort Myers. 


Related News:
Plastic and Litter Reduction Ordinance Factsheet (PDF)
San Francisco to Consider Banning Plastic Straws (SF Chronicle)

Press Contacts:
Supervisor Tang’s Office, Ashley Summers – (415) 554-7460
San Francisco Department of the Environment, Charles Sheehan – (415) 355-3756

Our home. Our city. Our planet.