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San Francisco Bans Fluorinated Chemicals in Food Service Ware and More

Woman holding box of recycling

San Francisco has banned of the sale of food service ware: that contains fluorinated chemicals, is made from polystyrene foam, and that is not either compostable or recyclable. The polystyrene foam ban takes effect on January 1, 2019, while the other bans become effective on January 1, 2020.

These bans are included in a new ordinance, Single-Use Food Ware Plastics, Toxics, and Litter Reduction, that updates the city’s Environmental Code. The mayor signed the ordinance on August 8, 2018.

“Fluorinated chemical” is defined as “a class of fluorinated organic compounds containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom, also known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals.” Compostable is defined as “an item or material is (1) accepted in San Francisco’s available composting collection program as fully compostable, as determined by the Department of the Environment; (2) is listed, described, or referenced on the Department’s website as compostable; and (3) is either certified compostable by the Biodegradable Product Institute [BPI] or other third party recognized by the Department, or is a napkin, stirrer, splash stick, cocktail stick, toothpick, or utensil made entirely of Natural Fiber.”

The ordinance also prohibits the sale or distribution of any straws, stirrers, splash sticks, cocktail sticks, or toothpicks made with plastic, including compostable, bio- or plant-based plastic, beginning in 2019. It also specifies that food service ware accessories only be provided upon request or at self-service stations, and that reusable beverage cups must be made available to no less than 10% of the attendees at city-owned and -leased facilities and at outdoor permitted city events. In addition, beginning in 2020, a minimum post-consumer recycled content for food service ware may be required if adopted through regulation.