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San Francisco’s Fluorinated Chemical Ban Limited to Compostable Food Service Ware

Paper food containers

The final text of San Francisco’s Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law clarifies that a ban on fluorinated chemicals in food service items, which became effective in 2020, only applies to food service items that are compostable. The law states, “No person may sell, offer for sale, or otherwise Distribute within the City… (4) beginning January 1, 2020, any Food Service Ware that is Compostable and not Fluorinated Chemical Free.” (SF Municipal Code, Chapter 16 (“Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance,” Section 1603). An earlier version of the law included all food service ware that was not fluorinated chemical free in the ban (see the article, San Francisco Bans Fluorinated Chemicals in Food Service Ware and More).

The law defines “fluorinated chemicals” 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.” In addition to the ban on fluorinated chemicals in compostable food service ware, the law also requires that all food service ware contain a minimum post-consumer recycled content, effective January 1, 2020, although a specific minimum amount has not been proposed yet. Other aspects of the law became effective July 1, 2019. A summary of the Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law that includes compliance dates can be found on the SF Environment website.