Foam Ban

A ban on the sale and distribution of polystyrene foam (e.g. Styrofoam)

EFFECTIVE: April 1, 2023

WHO IT APPLIES TO: all businesses or people, including restaurants, retail stores, and food vendors

DOES NOT APPLY TO: (1) food packaged outside of Truckee, except for egg cartons, and trays for meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables; (2) polystyrene foam products encased in a more durable material (e.g. polystyrene foam ice chests encased in a rigid plastic)

  • Grant funding is available for businesses to transition to non-polystyrene foam alternatives
  • Businesses can apply for a one-year hardship exemption if non-polystyrene foam alternative is not available or is cost prohibitive

FAQs

Vista preguntas frecuentes en español

  1. Why is polystyrene foam banned?
    Polystyrene foam products (e.g. Styrofoam) are of distinctive concern because they are extremely difficult to recover as litter. Polystyrene foam products are lightweight and can easily break into smaller pieces and be picked up by the wind and carried into the natural environment to create litter, polluting the environment and waterways.

  2. Is there grant funding to support businesses to purchase alternative foodware?
    Yes, food service establishments (limited service, full-service, takeout) can apply for us to $300 to assist in purchasing non-polystyrene foam foodware alternatives, including takeout containers, cups, bowls, etc. Grant information will be available in January 2023.

  3. Are there exemptions?
    Yes, businesses can apply for a one-year waiver from these restrictions if there are not any non-polystyrene foam alternatives available, or those alternatives are not affordable to the business. Exemption applications will be available in January 2023.

  4. Why aren’t businesses required to switch to compostable foodware?
    Compostable packaging is marketed as “green” but in practice little is composted, and almost all is landfilled. Most composters do not accept compostable packaging, including bioplastics or fiber-based products, because they do not add any nutritional value to the compost and may contain harmful chemicals that can transfer into the finished compost. Using compostable foodware that is landfilled yields no greenhouse gas reduction benefits compared to using conventional plastics. All disposable products require intensive environmental inputs to produce, such as extracting raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation, only to be used once. When considering a life-cycle analysis of all those impacts, there is no “best” disposable option. Reusables are the only option with reduced environmental impacts. Therefore, the policies in the ordinance aim to reduce the use of ALL disposable foodware products, regardless of what they’re made of, and instead create a cultural shift towards reusable foodware.

  5. What should businesses use instead of polystyrene foam?
    Reusable foodware beats single-use alternatives by every environmental measure. Over their lifecycle, reusable foodware has lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to disposable alternatives. In just 15 washes, reusable containers beat out disposables for environmental impacts. It is best practice for businesses to switch to reusable foodware whenever possible. Grant funding is available for businesses to purchase reusable foodware for in-house dining. For takeout containers, Keep Truckee Green operates a reusable takeout container program where reusable boxes can be provided and exchanged at any participating restaurant. Customers can request their takeout meal to be provided in a reusable green box. Learn more about the reusable green box program here.

  6. What type of disposable foodware should businesses use?
    While reusables are best, we understand disposable foodware is still sometimes necessary. There is no “best” disposable product, but here are some things to consider when looking for the most sustainable option:

    • Disposable packaging made from recycled materials is better than those made from virgin content. (i.e. paper cups made from recycled content paper are better than paper cups made from virgin paper. The same applies to recycled plastic and virgin plastic.) Look for “made from recycled content” when shopping for products.

    • The only plastics that are recyclable in Truckee are plastic #1 & #2 (PETE & HDPE). Recyclable plastic foodware must also be clean and non-food soiled to be recycled. Paper products are not recyclable if they are food soiled and they often contain a plastic liner, making them unable to be recycled. Look for products made from plastic #1 (PETE) & #2 (HDPE) when shopping for products.

    • Compostable products are not necessarily better. Products labeled “compostable,” “biodegradable,” or “bioplastic” aren’t allowed in the compost program in Truckee and must go in the trash.

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