Santa Cruz, CA Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging

From Green Policy
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Santa Cruz, CA, US

Loading map...

Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted on 2/12/08

Vote: Unanimous

Source File:



The City Council of the City of Santa Cruz ordains as follows:
Section 1. Chapter 6.48 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby repealed.

Section 2. A new chapter 6.48 is hereby added to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code to read as follows:

Chapter 6.48

The Santa Cruz City Council finds and declares that:

(a) The City of Santa Cruz has a duty to protect its natural environment, its economy, and the health of its citizens.

(b) The City of Santa Cruz borders the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This federal preserve supports one of the most diverse and delicate ecosystems in the world. This sanctuary provides habitat for at least 33 mammals, 94 species of seabirds, 345 species of fish, and contains the largest kelp forest in the nation.

(c) Eliminating the use of polystyrene foam and other non-compostable, non-biodegradable, and non-recyclable food packaging items will maximize the operating life of landfills and will lessen the economic and environmental costs of managing waste.

(d) In 1989 the City of Santa Cruz adopted an ordinance calling for retail food establishments to voluntarily eliminate polystyrene foam food packaging material by 1992. Since that time the City has provided extensive education and outreach to both businesses and the public explaining the reasons to change to recyclable, biodegradable, and/or compostable packaging. Because the voluntary ordinance has not eliminated the use of polystyrene foam packaging in the ensuing 18 years, the City finds it necessary to adopt mandatory restrictions.

(e) Discarded food and beverage packaging constitutes a significant and growing portion of the City’s waste stream. Laws, policies and regulations pertaining to disposable food service ware are a vital component in the City’s efforts to reduce the amount of disposed waste.

(f) Eliminating all non-biodegradable, non-returnable, and non-recyclable food packaging material from all establishments within the City of Santa Cruz will protect the City’s environment from contamination and degradation.

(g) Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City’s tourist economy, its citizenry and its environment. When products are recycled, natural resources are spared, less energy is used for the production of new products, and premium landfill space is preserved. When biodegradable products are turned into compost they can reduce water use and lessen the need for fertilizer.

(h) Biodegradable take-out packaging such as cups, plates, clamshell containers, and cutlery are now made from paper, sugarcane stalk, corn bi-products, and potato starch. As these products degrade, they pose less of a danger to the environment and are not a permanent blight on the landscape. These products are available locally.

(i) Disposable food service ware made from expanded polystyrene foam (commonly called Styrofoam) is not biodegradable, returnable, or recyclable. Polystyrene foam breaks into smaller pieces and because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.

(j) As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into the Monterey Bay. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.

(k) Marine animals and birds often confuse polystyrene foam with pieces of food, and when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.

(l) Polystyrene foam is manufactured from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.

(m) There is scientific evidence that styrene leaches from polystyrene foam containers into food and drink. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that there are short- and long-term adverse health effects associated with exposure to styrene.

(n) It is not economically feasible at this time, to recycle polystyrene foam in the City of Santa Cruz.

(o) Prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam take-out food packaging and replacing it with biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food service products will further protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, City residents and visitors, and will support the City’s goal of reducing waste and litter for a cleaner environment for generations to come.

Unless otherwise expressly stated, whenever used in this chapter the following terms shall have the meanings set forth below:

(a) “Affordable" means that a biodegradable, compostable or recyclable product may cost up to 15 percent more than the purchase cost of the non-biodegradable, non-compostable or non-recyclable alternative(s).

(b) “ASTM Standard” means meeting the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standards D6400 or D6868 for biodegradable and compostable plastics, as those standards may be amended.

(c) “Biodegradable” means the ability of organic matter to break down from a complex to a more simple form through the action of bacteria or to undergo this process.

(d) “City of Santa Cruz Facility” means any building, structure or vehicle owned and operated by the City of Santa Cruz, its agents, agencies, and departments.

(e) “City of Santa Cruz Contractor" means any person or entity that has a contract with the City of Santa Cruz for work or improvement to be performed, for a franchise, concession, for grant monies, goods and services, or supplies to be purchased at the expense of the City of Santa Cruz, or to be paid out of monies deposited in the Treasury or out of trust monies under the control or collected by the City of Santa Cruz.

(f) “Compostable” means all the materials in the product or package will break down, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g. soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner. Compostable disposable food service ware must meet ASTM-Standards for compostability and any bio-plastic or plastic-like product must be clearly labeled, preferably with a color symbol, to allow proper identification such that the collector and processor can easily distinguish the ASTM standard compostable plastic from non-ASTM standard compostable plastic.

(g) “Disposable Food Service Ware" is interchangeable with “to go” packaging and “food packaging material” and includes: all containers, clamshells, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, lids, straws, stirrers, forks, spoons, knives, napkins and other items designed for one-time use for prepared foods, including without limitation, service ware for takeout foods and/or leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by food providers.

(h) “Food Provider” means any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual, including retail food establishments, located in the City of Santa Cruz that offers food or beverage to the public.

(i) “Person” means an individual, business, event promoter, trust, firm, joint stock company, corporation, non-profit, including a government corporation, partnership, or association.

(j) “Polystyrene Foam” means blown polystyrene, and expanded and extruded foams (sometimes called StyrofoamTM) which are thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of monomer spheres (expanded bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blown molding (extruded foam polystyrene). Polystyrene foam is generally used to make cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays and egg cartons.

(k) “Prepared Food” means food or beverages, which are served, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed or otherwise prepared within the City of Santa Cruz. Prepared food does not include raw, butchered meats, fish and/or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar retail establishment.

(l) “Recyclable” means any material that is accepted by the City of Santa Cruz recycling program, including, but not limited to, paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard and plastic bottles, jars and tubs.

(m) “Retail Food Establishment” means all sales outlets, stores, shops, vehicles or other places of business located within the City which operate primarily to sell or convey foods or beverages directly to the ultimate consumer, which foods or beverages are predominantly contained, wrapped or held in or on packaging. Retail food establishment shall include, but not be limited to, any place where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, baked, smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured and sold or offered for sale, including, but not limited to, any fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in, coffee shop, cafeteria, short-order cafe, delicatessen, luncheonette, grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, hotel, motel, movie house, theatre, bed and breakfast inn, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, roadside stand, take-out prepared food place, industrial feeding establishment, catering kitchen, mobile food preparation unit, commissary, special event, grocery store, public food market, produce stand, food stand, or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for sale, or for service, on the premises or elsewhere, and any other establishment or operation where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided for the public and any organization, group or individual which provides food as part of its service.

(n) “Special Events Promoter” means an applicant for any special events permit issued by the City or any City employee(s) responsible for any City-organized special event.


a) Food providers within the City of Santa Cruz may not provide prepared food in any disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam.
b) Disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam is prohibited from use in all City of Santa Cruz facilities.
c) City of Santa Cruz contractors in the performance of City contracts and special events promoters may not provide prepared food in disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam.


a) All food providers within the City of Santa Cruz utilizing disposable food service ware shall use biodegradable, compostable or recyclable products, unless there is no affordable alternative available as determined by the Director of Public Works (see definition of “Affordable” and Section 6.48.30 Exemptions) on an annual basis. Food providers may charge a “take-out fee” to cover the difference in cost.
b) All City of Santa Cruz facilities utilizing disposable food service ware shall use products that are biodegradable, compostable or recyclable.
c) City of Santa Cruz contractors, and special events promoters utilizing disposable food service ware shall use biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable products while performing under a City of Santa Cruz contract or permit.


a) There are no exemptions that allow for the use of polystyrene foam disposable food service ware.
b) The Director of Public Works, or the Director’s designee, may exempt a food provider from the requirement set forth in section 6.48.25(a) of this ordinance for a one-year period upon the food provider showing, in writing, that this ordinance would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty not generally applicable to other persons in similar circumstances. The Director of Public Works or the Director’s designee shall put the decision to grant or deny a one-year exemption in writing, and the Director’s or Director’s designee decision shall be final.
c) An exemption application shall include all information necessary for the Director of Public Works or the Director’s designee to make a decision, including but not limited to documentation showing factual support for the claimed exemption. The Director or the Director’s designee may require the applicant to provide additional information.
d) The Director Public Works or Director’s designee may approve the exemption application in whole or in part, with or without conditions.
e) Foods prepared or packaged outside the City of Santa Cruz and sold inside the City of Santa Cruz are exempt from the provisions of this Chapter. Purveyors of food prepared or packaged outside the City of Santa Cruz are encouraged to follow the provisions of this Chapter.
f) Until such time that the City of Santa Cruz provides food providers with a municipal food scrap collection program, a blanket exemption is hereby granted allowing the use of plastic cutlery and lids.


a) Violations of this ordinance may be enforced in accordance with Chapter 4.14 of this Code.
b) The Director of Public Works, or the Director’s designee, shall be responsible for enforcing this Chapter and shall have authority to issue citations for violations. The Director, or the Director’s designee, is authorized to establish regulations or administrative procedures to obtain compliance with this chapter.
c) Anyone violating or failing to comply with any of the requirements of this Chapter shall be guilty of an infraction.
d) The Santa Cruz City Attorney may seek legal, injunctive, or any other relief to enforce the provisions of this Chapter.
e) The remedies and penalties provided in this chapter are cumulative and not exclusive of one another.
f) The City of Santa Cruz in accordance with applicable law, may inspect any vendor or food provider’s premises to verify compliance.

Violations of this ordinance shall be enforced as follows:

1. For the first violation, the Director of Public Works or the Director’s designee shall issue a written warning to the food provider specifying that a violation of this chapter has occurred and which further notified the food provider of the appropriate penalties to be assessed in the event of future violations. The food provider will have 30 days to comply.
2. The following penalties will apply for subsequent violations of this Chapter:
a) A fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.) for the first violation 30 days after the first warning. The Director of Public Works or the Director’s designee may allow the violator in lieu of payment of the fine, to submit receipts demonstrating the purchase after the citation date, of at least $100 worth of biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable products appropriate as an alternative disposable food service ware for the items which led to the violation.
b) A fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.) for the second violation 60 days after the first warning.
c) A fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.) for the third violation 90 days after the first warning and for each additional 30 day period during which the food provider is not in compliance.
3. Food providers who violate this Chapter in connection with commercial or non-commercial special events authorized by Chapters 10.64 or 10.65 shall be assessed fines as follows:
a) A fine not to exceed $200 for an event of 1 to 200 Persons
b) A fine not to exceed $400 for an event of 201 to 400 Persons
c) A fine not to exceed $600 for an event of 401 to 600 Persons
d) A fine not to exceed $1,000 for an event of 600 or more Persons.

This ordinance shall take effect and be in force six months from the date of adoption.

Section 3. This ordinance shall be in force and take effect six (6) months after its final adoption.