• Foam Food Containers


Report Foam Foodware Use: 

Call: (408) 730-7262

Email: Recycling@sunnyvale.ca.gov

Foam Food Containers

Foam Foodware Retail Sale Ban In Effect April 22, 2015

What does the ban cover?

  1. On or after April 22, 2014, a food provider shall not dispense prepared food to a customer in a polystyrene foam food container, which includes plates, cups, bowls, lids, trays, hinged containers and lidded containers
  2. On or after April 22, 2015, polystyrene foam food containers shall not be sold or provided by any vendor or store in Sunnyvale.

Why is polystyrene foam foodware being banned?

- Foam food containers can break into pieces and be mistaken for food and ingested by wildlife.

- Foam food containers are made from non-renewable petrochemical resources and typically end up in landfills or as litter.

-The City of Sunnyvale, along with other Bay Area jurisdictions, has been tasked by regional water quality officials with reducing the amount of foam food containers and other trash pollutants in local waterways.

- More than 50 jurisdictions in California have banned foam food take-out containers.

- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared that the material foam containers are made from, styrene, is "reasonably" anticipated to be a carcinogen.

What if I see polystyrene foam foodware being used?

To report foam foodware use, call (408) 730-7262 or email Recycling@sunnyvale.ca.gov

What other kinds of containers can be used?

Containers made from fiber/paper, aluminum, rigid plastic, and bio-plastics are some of the options available.  A list of vendors who sell alternatives is available to get ideas. 

Is there anywhere to take EPS to be recycled?

Used foam foodware is very problematic to recycle (even in the rare locations where the material can be accepted) because of the food contamination that soaks into the material.

Newby Island Recovery Park (1601 Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas) will accept clean expanded polystyrene (not peanuts) at no charge and process it for recycling. Make sure the foam meets Newby's specifications or call (408) 432-1234 for information.

RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) will accept foam blocks of any shape.  Call (408) 451-1420 for details.

Green Citizen in Mountain View will accept foam of any shape or size, including peanuts, for a fee.  Call (650) 493-8700 for more information.

Many mailing and shipping stores will take foam packing peanuts for reuse.

What other cities and counties in California have already taken action to ban foam food containers?

City of Alameda, City of Albany, City of Aliso Viejo, City of Belmont, City of Berkeley, City of Burbank, City of Burlingame, City of Calabasas, City of Carpenteria, City of Capitola, City of Carmel, City of Dana Point, City of Del Rey Oaks, City of Emeryville, City of Fairfax, City of Foster City, City of Fremont, City of Hayward, City of Half Moon Bay, City of Hercules, City of Huntington Beach*, City of Laguna Beach, City of Laguna Hills*, City of Laguna Woods*, City of Livermore, City of Los Angeles*, County of Los Angeles*, City of Malibu, County of Marin, County of Marina, City of Millbrae, County of Monterey, City of Monterey, City of Newport Beach, City of Oakland, County of Orange*, City of Ojai, City of Pacific Grove, City of Pacifica, City of Palo Alto, City of Pittsburg, City of Richmond, City of Redwood City, City of Salinas, City of Riverbank, City of San Bruno, City of San Carlos, City of San Clemente, City of San Leandro, City of San Rafael, City of Sausalito, City and County of San Francisco, City of South San Francisco* City of San Jose*, City of San Juan Capistrano*, County of San Mateo, County of Santa Clara, City of Santa Monica, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, City of Scotts Valley, City of Seaside, County of Sonoma, County of Ventura*,City of Watsonville, City of West Hollywood.

*Indicates ban only applies to government facilities or events.

Other cities and counties outside of California taking action:

Boston, Mass.
Chicago, Ill.
Freeport, Maine
Issaquah, Wash.
Portland, Ore.
Rahway, N.J.
Seattle, Wash.
Suffolk County, N.Y.

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Exemption Request Information

5.39/030(b) allows food providers to request an exemption (limited to one year or April 22, 2015, whichever is sooner) by writing a letter to the ESD Director. The request must demonstrate, "that compliance with the provisions of [Chapter 5.39] will impose a unique problem, not generally applicable to other persons in similar circumstances, that will result in an undue economic hardship."

How to submit a letter for exemption

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