Polystyrene Food Packaging Ban

Say No To Foam!


On July 18, 2016 the Pasadena City Council unanimously voted to ban the use of polystyrene food packaging within Pasadena: Container Ban Ordinance (PMC 8.67)

When does the ordinance take effect?

  • August 22, 2016 for all city facilities and operations, and city sponsored and permitted events.
  • August 22, 2017 for all food service providers and retailers in Pasadena.

Why did the City of Pasadena ban polystyrene?

Polystyrene litter causes significant environmental damage to the environment. Polystyrene litter floats easily through gutters, storm drains, creeks and rivers, and into wetlands and the ocean. It never biodegrades; it merely breaks into smaller and smaller particles and is ingested by wildlife. In landfills, polystyrene products take up space and do not degrade.

What are the banned food service containers?

This ban applies to polystyrene single-use, disposable products used for serving or transporting prepared food, including plates, bowls, trays, wrappers or wrapping, platters, cartons, clamshells, condiment containers, cups or drink ware. These products are usually labeled on the bottom of the item with a recycling code PS or #6.

Exception: Ban does not apply to: straws, cup-lids, or utensils, nor does it include packaging for unprepared foods.

Who must comply with this ordinance?

Food providers dispensing prepared food and retailers selling food packaging must comply with the ordinance. The ordinance applies to restaurants; farmers’ markets; convenience stores; supermarkets, food vendors; caterers; food trucks; groups or individuals providing prepared foods to the general public; and all City facilities and City permitted events.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

  • Initial written warning issued for non-compliance
  • The 1st violation results in a fine of $110
  • The 2nd violation results in a fine of $223
  • The 3rd violation results in a fine of $560
  • The 4th violation results in a fine of $1,127

What types of containers are allowed under the ordinance?

  • Aluminum
  • Recyclable plastics 1 through 5
  • Coated and uncoated paper

Where do I find acceptable food service containers?

Contact or visit your sales representative to inquire about acceptable containers. If they do not carry them, request that they begin doing so. As a service to the community, the city has a list of suppliers of acceptable food service containers.

Who can I call for questions about where to find alternative products, ordinance enforcement, exemptions, recycling technical assistance?

Contact the City Service Center at (626) 744-7311 or pasadena311@cityofpasadena.net