San Francisco Department of the Environment

Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law

The Single-Use Foodware Plastics, Toxics and Litter Reduction Ordinance aims to:

  • Reduce plastic pollution by prohibiting the distribution of plastic straws, among other foodware accessories, and providing allowed accessories only upon request
  • Eliminate toxic fluorinated chemicals from foodware products

Who does this apply to?


Food & Beverage Vendors

Plastic Straw Restrictions

Starting July 1, 2019, the law restricts the distribution of single-use plastic straws, including compostable plastic straws. Acceptable single-use straws (such as paper straws) can only be made available upon request. A single-use plastic straw may only be provided to a customer who specifically requests a plastic straw to accommodate a disability or medical need. 

Acceptable straws include: 

  • Single-use paper or other natural fiber straws  
  • Reusable straws, such as glass, silicon, or metal
  • Single-use plastic straws are available upon request for people with disabilities or medical needs.  Businesses should wait for a person to request a plastic straw before providing one.

Starting January 1, 2020, single-use straws made of natural fiber or paper and all other compostable foodware must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Compostable plastic straws (PLA) are prohibited by San Francisco’s law because they act like conventional plastic in our environment if littered.

Plastic Accessories Ban

Starting July 1, 2019, food & beverage vendors may no longer provide the following single-use plastic accessories:

  • Plastic beverage plugs
  • Plastic cocktail sticks
  • Plastic stirrers
  • Plastic toothpicks

Acceptable single-use alternatives include accessories made from natural fiber (such as paper, bamboo, wood, etc.) and may only be made available upon request or in a self-service area.

Plastic Accessories Ban

All Food and Beverage Accessories

Starting July 1, 2019, even acceptable single-use food and beverage accessories must not be included automatically in a customer’s order for dine-in, take-out or delivery. The following single-use food and beverage accessories may be made available only upon request or in a self-service area:

  • Beverage plugs
  • Chopsticks
  • Condiment packages and portion cups
  • Lids
  • Napkins
  • Sleeves
  • Stirrers
  • UtensilsFood and Beverage Accessories

Compostable Foodware Criteria 

Starting January 1, 2020, straws made of natural fiber or paper and all other compostable foodware must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Examples of compostable foodware include:

  • Grease resistant paper
  • Paper plates
  • To-go containers and straws made of paper or other natural fiber

Use only BPI-certified compostable foodware. (BPI website)
 

BPI Compostable logo
 


The following single-use foodware accessories, when made entirely of natural fiber (like paper or wood), do not need to be BPI-certified:

  • Cocktail sticks
  • Napkins
  • Splash sticks
  • Stirrers
  • Toothpicks
  • Utensils

Event Producers

As of July, 2019, the City and County of San Francisco passed the Single-Use Foodware Plastics, Toxics and Litter Reduction Ordinance (File No. 181004) to reduce plastic pollution and litter from single-use disposable items like straws and cups.

  • The new law restricts the distribution of plastic straws and allows food and beverage accessories like lids, cutlery, and napkins to be provided only upon customer request or at a self-serve station. 
  • The law also requires event producers who provide prepared beverages to more than 100 attendees on City property to promote or provide reusable beverage containers to at least 10 percent of attendees.

How to Meet the New Event Producer Requirements

To meet this requirement, event producers must do at least one of the following:

  1. Provide, lend, or sell reusable beverage cups to event attendees
  2. Promote or incentivize attendees to bring their own reusable beverage cup

Sign up for the Zero Waste Events Workshop

The Department of Environment provides resources and technical assistance to event producers to meet zero waste requirements. Learn more about the plastic and litter reduction law and the waste prevention and recycling resources available to you. 

Register for the next Zero Waste Events Workshop
Monday, September 23, 3pm


 

Retailers

Plastic Foodware Requirements 

Starting July 1, 2019, retailers must not sell the following single-use plastic foodware accessories:

  • Plastic beverage plugs
  • Plastic cocktail sticks
  • Plastic stirrers
  • Plastic toothpicks

Compostable Foodware Requirements 

Starting January 1, 2020, straws made of natural fiber or paper and all other compostable foodware sold in San Francisco must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Examples of compostable foodware include:

  • Grease-resistant paper
  • Paper plates
  • To-go containers and straws made of paper or other natural fiber

Napkin


Find compostable products that meet San Francisco’s requirements. (BPI website)
 

BPI Compostable logo


Printable Resources

Placard for Retail Establishments ("Straws available upon request" - printable sign to post at your establishment)

Letter Sent to Businesses (PDF) - In Spanish, Chinese, Filipino.


Related Content

Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law (Purchasing and Usage Guidelines)

Foodware Purchasing Guide (PDF)

Laws related to Zero Waste (including plastic reduction laws)

Plastic, Toxics, and Litter Reduction Ordinance (Legislation, PDF)


Paper Straws

 
Paper Straws