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Environmental Program
City of Menlo Park
701 Laurel Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Tel. 650.330.6720
FAX 650.327.5497

Environmental Programs

On Tuesday, August 28th the City Council of Menlo Park adopted San Mateo County’s Polystyrene Food Ware Ordinance. The ordinance applies to all food vendors in the City, and will become effective on November 1, 2012.
The ordinance will help protect the health and safety of the residents, wildlife, and habitat in Menlo Park, while reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

Details about the Ordinance: Ordinance 984

  • Prohibits food vendors, including restaurants, delis, cafes, markets, fast-food establishments, vendors at fairs, and food trucks from dispensing prepared food in polystyrene containers labeled as No. 6.
  • Does not prohibit the use of polystyrene for pre-packaged foods (e.g., pre-packaged meats or eggs in markets)
  • Does not apply to non-food businesses that use polystyrene for packaging
  • Does not include lids, straws, or utensils.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I buy alternative food ware products?

 Alternative food ware products are available from distributers such as Cash & Carry, Costco, Restaurant Depot, SF Supply master, Smart and Final, and Sysco Food services, as well as online stores such as WorldCentric, Web Restaurant Store, Food Service Warehouse, Cuptainers and Compostable Food Service and Kitchen Products. You can also check if your current distributor offers compostable food ware alternatives. How to comply with the ordinance click here.

2. What is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is used globally. It can be a hard plastic that can be shaped with detail, like plastic utensils and straws, or it can be expanded to make what we know as Styrofoam® hinged containers, cups, etc. Polystyrene (PS) is usually labeled with a number 6.

Although polystyrene is inexpensive, there is a greater cost to the environment because it:

  • Does not biodegrade and it is commonly found as litter in waterways, storm drains and open spaces
  • Leaches harmful chemicals into our food and drink that may impact our health
  • Is not recyclable when it is contaminated with food
  • Is made out of petroleum, a nonrenewable resource
  • Breaks up into smaller pieces that wildlife can mistake for food
  • Is very difficult to clean up and taxpayers pay for cleanup costs

If you would like more information, feel free to contact us at (650) 330-6720, or through email at recycle@menlopark.org

3. What are the alternative food ware products?

There are alternative food ware products that are affordable, made of renewable resources (e.g. plant fiber, oils and starches), that will biodegrade in existing municipal and industrial composting facilities.

  • Biodegradable/Compostable products: These are made out of materials break down into the environment naturally.

Biodegradable plastics (Bioplastics) are products made out of vegetable oils, fats, or starches, and are usually used for cold foods and drinks. Bioplastic cutlery is resistant to heat. In order to be composted in industrial or municipal facilities, bioplastics must be either BPI certified, or meet the requirements for the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) test - D6400.

  • Plant fiber food ware includes products made out of paper or cardboard, such as paper cups/plates and pizza boxes. These products can be used for hot or cold foods and drinks and do not need any certification.

  • Fully recyclable products: These include plastics # 1, 2, 4 and 5, and aluminum containers.

4. What is ASTM D6400?

ASTM D6400 tests plastics and products made from vegetable oils, fats or starch, and assures that they can be rapidly and safely composted in professionally managed municipal and industrial composting facilities.

5. What does BPI-Certified mean?

BPI is a non-profit organization that certifies products that biodegrade in a relatively short period of time. For more information about companies that offer BPI-certified products, please visit www.bpiworld.org. Menlo Park’s composting program only accepts BPI-certified bioplastics because they can break down within 90 days at our facility. The “compostable” label below is designed for consumers, haulers and composters to distinguish compostable bioplastics from non-biodegradable plastics. Look for this logo to make sure the products are BPI-certified.


If you would like more information, feel free to contact us at (650) 330-6720, or through email at recycle@menlopark.org



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