Calabasas, CA Banning the Use of Polystyrene for Food Packaging

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Calabasas, CA, US

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Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted in 2007

Source File:


Calabasas Retail Food Establishments Need to Certify Their Awareness of the City's Ordinance Banning the Use of Expanded Polystyrene for Food Packaging

Calabasas retail food establishments need to certify their awareness of the City’s ordinance banning the use of expanded polystyrene for Food Packaging

By March 31, 2007, the owners of each retail food establishment within the City of Calabasas should report to the City their awareness and compliance of this newly adopted ban on the use of expanded polystyrene for food packaging.

On February 21, 2007, Calabasas City Council members adopted Ordinance 2007-233 banning retail food establishments, nonprofit food providers and City facilities from using food packaging materials made of expanded polystyrene, known popularly by the trademark name Styrofoam. The ordinance requires food service establishments in Calabasas to start using environmentally acceptable packaging (i.e. returnable, recyclable, biodegradable, degradable) by March 31, 2008, and report on-going compliance with this ordinance on the first business day of each calendar year.

The purpose of this ordinance is to protect the natural environment from non-biodegradable litter, reduce solid wastes, and promote public health. Most polystyrene food packaging products consist of disposable food and beverage take-out containers. They make up a majority of visible wastes littering public places and natural environments, and are known to persist in the environment for many years before breaking down into non-biodegradable components, posing potential environmental and public health risks.

The ordinance therefore requires food service providers to purchase packaging that is:

(1) Returnable – food or beverage containers are capable of being returned to the distributor for reuse
(2) Recyclable – material that can be recycled, salvaged, composted, processed, or marketed by any means other than land-filling or burning. Recyclable materials include plastic which can be feasibly recycled by a municipal recycling program in California. Such plastics have recycling symbols #1 through #5 and include PET or PETE, HDPE, LDPE, and PP plastics. Polystyrene bears the recycling symbol #6, but is not feasibly recyclable in Calabasas.
(3) Biodegradable – capable of being broken down by micro-organisms in the environment into non-toxic components within a reasonably short time after disposal
(4) Degradable – capable of being broken down through natural processes via natural organisms or ultraviolet light.

Restaurants and other food service providers have the choice of many food packaging products made of environmentally friendly alternatives, such as bio-plastics made of corn, paper, and bagasse-ware made of plant pulp, all of which meet the requirements of the ordinance. Several other California cities, such as Berkeley, Oakland, Malibu, Santa Monica, and San Francisco, have already passed similar bans, paving the way for others, like Calabasas, to follow. Food service providers in Calabasas will be seeing the availability of helpful resources posted on the City website in the near future to help make the switch from polystyrene use to environmentally acceptable packaging a smoother transition.

Calabasas Ordinance No. 2007-233 (PDF)