For important information about Organic Waste Recycling start dates and green bin information/presentations:  Read more in “Homes Serviced by the City”

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San Diego Single Use Plastic Reduction Ordinance

Starting April 1, 2023: 

  • Polystyrene foam containers are prohibited from distribution and sale. This includes food service ware such as bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids, and other similar items, as well as egg cartons and meat trays.  
  • Single use plastic (or bio-plastic) straws and utensils may only be provided upon the request of the customer.  
  • The following may not be distributed if made from polystyrene foam unless encased within another material: 
    • Coolers, ice chests, or similar containers. 
    • Pool or beach toys. 
    • Dock floats, mooring buoys, or anchor or navigation markers. 
  • All polystyrene foam products are prohibited from City facilities (including special events, parks and beaches). 
  • Waivers are available for feasibility-based hardships, financial hardships, and contractual requirements. (Waiver application will be available soon). 
  • Please review the entire Ordinance language linked above for more details. 

NOTE: There is an automatic waiver through March 31, 2023 for entities with gross income less than $500,000 on most recent federal income tax filing. 

 

WHY? 

Polystyrene foam products are typically used one time before being discarded, and due to their light weight can easily become litter. Polystyrene foam litter breaks down into small pieces which do not biodegrade and often end up in streets, canyons, waterways, storm drains, and eventually the ocean, where it harms wildlife that mistakenly ingest it. 

Plastic straws are a significant contributor to marine pollution and are among the most common forms of litter collected on California beaches. They are not accepted in local recycling programs. 

The Single Use Plastic Reduction Ordinance will help San Diego reach its Zero Waste goals and help maintain clean and beautiful beaches and public spaces. The Ordinance will also meet the objectives of the City’s Climate Action Plan.   

 

Alternatives to Polystyrene Foam

Preferred

Material Product Comments
Reusable service ware (ceramic, glass, reusable plastic, etc.).  Reusable plates, bowls and cups. Wash and reuse.
Paper (coated or uncoated). Bowls, plates, trays, cups, hinged containers, boxes. Recyclable if dry and free of food and food residue. 
Aluminum. Trays, lidded containers, wrap. Recyclable if free of food.
Plastic (rigid, non-foam). Bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids, hinged containers. Recyclable if free of food.

NOT Preferred

Material Product Comments

"Compostable" and "biodegradable" plastic, sugarcane, bagasse, bamboo, molded fiber and other similar items.

Bowls, plates, trays, cups, hinged containers, boxes, lids, wrap. Not Recyclable, must be placed in trash. Not accepted in local recycling or composting programs. Does not help San Diego reach its zero waste goals.

Ask your current supplier about alternatives to polystyrene foam. You may also check these other cities' lists of alternative products: