San Mateo County Disposable Packaging Ordinance

February 13th, 2020

Passed on 2/11/2020. Introduction of an ordinance repealing Chapters 4.106 and 4.107 of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code and adopting a new Chapter 4.107 regulating the use of disposable food service ware by food facilities and waive the reading of the ordinance in its entirety. You can download the new ordinance in it’s entirety below:

The law applies to facilities in unincorporated areas of the county and is effective 2/12/2021. Most San Mateo County cities are expected to follow later this year and may adopt Chapter 4.107 of the County code into their municipal code.


  • 4.107.030 – Distribution of Disposable Food Service Ware Accessories.
  • (a) No Food Facility shall provide any Disposable Food Service Ware Accessories except (1) upon request by the consumer, (2) upon acceptance by the consumer after being offered by the Food Facility, or (3) at a self-serve area and/or a dispenser.
  • (b)  Food Facilities shall only distribute Disposable Food Service Ware Accessories unbundled, as separate individual units.
  • (c)  Takeout Food Delivery Services that utilize digital ordering/point of sale platforms, including but not limited to the internet and smart-phone, shall only offer Disposable Food Service Ware Accessories by providing clear options for customers to affirmatively request these items separate from orders for food and beverages. The default option on the digital ordering/point of sale platforms shall be that no Disposable Food Service Ware Accessories are requested. Each individual Disposable Food Service Ware Accessory (e.g., each fork, knife, condiment packet, napkin, etc.) provided with Prepared Food must be specifically requested by the customer in order for a Food Facility to provide it.

4.107.040 – Standards and Required Use of Disposable Food Service Ware.

  • (a)  No Food Facility shall use Polystyrene-based Disposable Food Service Ware when providing Prepared Food.
  • (b)  Food Facilities shall only provide Disposable straws, stirrers, utensils, and cocktail/toothpicks (and the packaging that these individual items are wrapped in, if any) that are Compostable.
  • (c)  Nothing in this Chapter shall conflict or be construed to conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other applicable law concerning the rights of individuals with disabilities. In particular, nothing in this Chapter shall restrict, or be construed to restrict, the provision by Food Facilities of Disposable Non- Compostable straws to individuals who may request the use of Disposable Non- Compostable straws to accommodate medical needs or disabilities. Healthcare Facilities may distribute Disposable Non-Compostable straws with or without request by a patient at the discretion of the Healthcare Facility staff based on the physical or medical needs of the patient.
  • (d)  Food Facilities shall use Compostable items for the below Disposable Food Service Ware:
    • Plates
    • Bowls (of all sizes including, but not limited to soup and salad bowls and accessory bowls for condiments)
    • Cups (of all sizes including, but not limited to beverage cups)
    • Foodtrays
    • Clamshells,boxes,delicontainers,andothercontainersusedforthesale and/or distribution of Prepared Food (e.g., Takeout Food, leftover “doggie containers”, etc.)
  • (e)  Compostable items for the Disposable Food Service Ware listed in Subsection (d) used by Food Facilities must have been tested…. 

Comments are closed.