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Why does the ordinance only focus on EPS foam food service ware, not paper or rigid plastic containers?
This ordinance aims to reduce a pervasive and persistent type of litter by banning food service ware made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. EPS foam is uniquely problematic when littered because it does not degrade. It breaks easily into tiny pieces, making it difficult to clean up. Those small pieces are often mistaken as food by fish and wildlife and are harmful to their health.


Paper, other natural fibers, and rigid plastic do not present the same kind of litter problem for our creeks. Paper and natural fibers degrade and, thus, are not persistent in the environment. Rigid plastic is recyclable and highly durable but does not break apart the way EPS does.

Reducing the use of EPS foam food service ware will decrease the amount of this pollutant in our environment.

Environment - Litter Prevention - EPS

Show All Answers

1. Why did San José adopt a Foam Food Container Ordinance to ban expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food service ware, commonly known as Styrofoam™?
2. Why does the ordinance only focus on EPS foam food service ware, not paper or rigid plastic containers?
3. Who is affected by this ordinance?
4. What types of containers are banned by the ordinance?
5. When did this ordinance go into effect?
6. Who is exempt?
7. How does a restaurant apply for an exemption?
8. What are the alternatives to EPS foam food service ware, and where can I purchase them?
9. Do alternative products cost more than EPS?
10. What is the City doing to enforce existing litter laws?
11. How will this ordinance be enforced?
12. What other options does the City have to deal with litter?
13. Why not just recycle foam food service ware?
14. Have other cities and counties banned EPS foam food service ware?