The City of Seattle is requiring all food service businesses to find packaging alternatives to throw-away food service containers, cups and other products in all food service businesses - restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops and institutional cafeterias.
Effective July 1, 2010, all food service products designed for one-time-use must be replaced with one-time use products that are either compostable or recyclable.
In addition, businesses that have customer dining area disposal stations where customers discard single use packaging must collect recyclable and compostable packaging in clearly labeled bins and send to a recycling or composting facility for processing.
When does the ban take effect?
Phase one of the ordinance applied only to expanded polystyrene (EPS, sometimes called “Styrofoam”). The foam ban took effect January 1, 2009.
Phase two of the ordinance applies to ALL throw-away food packaging and service ware. The ban on disposables took effect July 1, 2010.
A temporary exemption is in place for utensils, straws, small portion cups, and foil faced, insulated wrap. Please see below for more details.
Are there any product exemptions?
Leading up to the July 1 deadline, Seattle Public Utilities worked extensively with restaurant industry stakeholders and businesses in the food service packaging industry. Through this process, which has included restaurant industry comment and in-use testing of various products, SPU has determined that there are several types of products for which compostable or recyclable alternatives meeting acceptable performance standards or recyclability do not yet exist.
Ordinance 123307, which took effect June 19, 2010, permits Seattle Public Utilities to issue director’s rules for temporary waivers to the food service ware and packaging requirements set out two years ago in Ordinance 122751.
The requirement that all single-use food service ware be either compostable or recyclable shall temporarily not apply to:
Your business should also secure recycling and compost service and place clearly labeled bins for collection of packaging and food if you have a customer dining area disposal station. For ideas on how to implement a three bin collection system, visit our Food+ Wall of Fame.
Why switch to compostable products?
Where can I find substitute products?
Click here for a continually updated list of approved packaging products and information on manufacturers, and local distributors.
CAUTION: A large number of products advertised as “biodegradable” do not compost in the Seattle system. Because the intent of the City’s program is to minimize landfilling, products designed to be “biodegradable” in a landfill are not acceptable in Seattle. Be sure the products you buy are approved compostable.
How do I sign up for service?
For more information on how to set up recycling or compost service for your business, please visit our Seattle Commercial Waste and Recycling 101 page.
Additional questions? Call us at (206) 343.8505, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Order FREE Posters and Decals for Customer Dining Areas
Food Service Packaging Requirements and Resources Flyer (PDF)
Site Audit Checklist (PDF)
Seattle Times: Coffee-cup Recycling Brims with Obstacles
Snohomish County HeraldNet: What Packaging is Compostable? It's Complicated
San Francisco's new Universal Recycling & Composting Ordinance takes effect October 21, 2009