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Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging

Keep the sea plastic free!Disposable-Food-Service-Ware Flyer - Copy

Each year, 10 million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans - equal to a garbage truck load per minute - and most plastic items never fully disappear.
Rather, they break down into smaller pieces called microplastics. Microplastics can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion and absorption and accumulate in organs. There is substantial evidence that chemicals associated with microplastics can cause significant health concerns, such as methylmercury - a neurotoxin. Additionally, one million marine animals are killed by plastic pollution every year. Reducing plastic consumption is the one of the most effective pollution solutions.

In April 2019, the City of Monterey adopted a new disposable food service ware ordinance contained in Monterey City Code Chapter 14, Article 3. Food providers in the City of Monterey are prohibited from:
  • Using or distributing plastic straws, except when a consumer self-identifying as a person with a disability making the use of a plastic straw necessary, specifically requests a plastic straw.
  • Using or distributing any disposable food service ware when providing dine-in services.
  • Using or distributing disposable food service ware that is not compostable or recyclable for dine-out services.
Disposable-Food-Service-Ware-Local-Suppliers"Food provider" includes any vendor located or providing food within the City, which provides prepared food on or off its premises and includes without limitation any store, shop, sales outlet, restaurant, grocery store, supermarket, delicatessen, food/catering truck or vehicle, and vendors located outside of the City delivering prepared food into the City.

"Compostable" means all the materials in the product will break down
, or otherwise become a part of usable compost in a safe and timely manner. Compostable disposable food service ware must meet ASTM standards for compostability.

"Recyclable" means any material that is accepted
by the City or special district recycling program. What Goes Where can provide guidance on which products and materials are recyclable.

AB 1276: Single-Use Foodware Accessories & Condiments Upon Request Only
Effective June 1st, 2022, state law AB 1276 prohibits food facilities and third-party food delivery platforms from providing any single-use foodware accessory or standard condiment to a customer unless requested. Single-use foodware accessories include (but are not limited to): forks, knives, spoons, sporks, chopsticks, condiment cups and packets, straws, stirrers, splash sticks, and cocktail sticks. Standard condiments include (but are not limited to): ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, hot sauce, salsa, salt, pepper, sugar, and sugar substitutes.

  • Food facilities may ask drive-thru or walk-thru customers if they would like a single-use foodware accessory or condiment. 
  • Food facilities using third-party food delivery platforms must list on their menu the availability of single-use foodware accessories and standard condiments and provide those items when requested only.
  • Prohibits applicable items from being bundled or packaged in a way that prohibits the consumer from taking only the item desired, and encourages use of bulk and refillable dispensers.
Please see the County of Monterey FAQ sheet for details, or visit the County of Monterey Health Department website.

Use of Polystyrene (Styrofoam) for Takeout Prohibited in Monterey
On February 3rd, 2009 the City of Monterey successfully adopted an ordinance that prohibits the use of polystyrene materials to be used for takeout food applications within city limits. The City of Monterey has seen first-hand the impact of polystyrene foam and plastic litter in storm drains, in fields, on roadways and highways, in rivers, in the ocean and on our beaches.

Banning polystyrene foam takeout packaging locally will help to address marine pollution by requiring the use of environmentally preferable alternatives, while helping to educate business owners and citizens on the positive impact their packaging choices can make. Unlike many other types of packaging, once in the environment, polystyrene foam remains there permanently where it breaks into tiny pieces that disperse widely.

A ban may not be a cure-all, but it is a step in the right direction. We want to get people thinking about the far-reaching consequences resulting from simple decisions made everyday. We want people to consider the life cycle of the products they are buying - what they are made from, the energy that goes into the production and what happens after the garbage truck hauls them away.

Looking for information on the City of Monterey's plastic bag ordinance? See the Choose to Reuse Single Use Carry Out Bags page.

Report Disposable Food Service ware Violations

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Ordinance Background8 documents

  • American Chemistry Council Letter, November 2008
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  • American Chemistry Council Monterey Green Plan
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  • City Council Annotated Agenda, April 2008
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  • Final Ordinance
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  • Negative Declaration, October 21st 2008
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  • Planning Commission Annotated Agenda, May 2008
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  • Recommended Findings for Decision
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  • Response to American Chemistry Council 2008
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