The City of Takoma Park has banned the use of polystyrene packaging and food-service ware within the boundaries of Takoma Park. This page contains information on the polystyrene ban to assist businesses and residents with compliance.
The Charter and Code for the City of Takoma Park prohibits food service facilities from using polystyrene-composed packaging or food-service ware when providing prepared foods for on-site or take-away consumption. To review the sections of the City Code that pertains to vendors and the polystyrene ban visit the following pages:
- City Code Chapter 8.12: “VENDORS”
- City Code Chapter 8.16: “SALE OF FOOD AND DRINK”
Violations of the ordinance could result in a Class C municipal infraction, which carries a $200 fine for the first offense and a $400 fine for repeat offenses.
Polystyrene Ban Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When does the ban take effect?
The ban is effective July 1, 2015. The ban was in effect for food vendors and City events as of July, 2013.
Is this different than the Montgomery County ban?
Yes, Takoma Park’s polystyrene ban contains different provisions than the Montgomery County ban, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016. More information on the Montgomery County ban can be found here: Montgomery County Bill 41-14
Who is affected by this ban?
- Any restaurant, coffee shop, bakery, retail market, cafeteria, take-out counter, commercial kitchen, grocery store, convenience store, and catering operation;
- Food trucks or stands, sidewalk or festival vendors or temporary stands;
- Any food-service facility in an institution, hospital, club, school, church, park or public building, meeting or convention facility, or camp.
Are you a business owner looking to transition to alternative products?
The City has numerous resources you can use to learn more about non-polystyrene alternatives and their expected costs:
- Compostable or Recyclable Food Service Ware Alternatives and Pricing. Reference sheet of alternative products containing various material, cost, volume, and vendor options.
- Polystyrene Ban Fact Sheet For Local Business: “What Will The Ban Cost My Business?”
- Takoma Park Polystyrene Ban: Alternative Material Cost Analyses. Detailed analyses of the costs for alternative materials.
- Vendors of Compostable or Recyclable Food Service Wares. List of retail and online stores offering competitively priced, non-polystyrene food service wares.
What is polystyrene food-service ware or packaging?
Food-service ware is defined as utensils, cutlery, tableware, cups, lids and plates intended for food or drink and used for storage, preparation, service or consumption.
Food packaging includes bags, boxes, wrappings, trays, “clamshell” containers, bottles and other containers intended for food or drink and used in storage, preparation, service or consumption.
Why is Polystyrene prohibited?
Polystyrene is made from styrene, a petroleum byproduct which is nonrenewable and a heavily polluting resource. Styrene is a known neurotoxin that is classified as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (meaning there is significant evidence linking styrene to human cancers.) Polystyrene is not recyclable and once discarded persists in the environment for years.
One form of polystyrene is used to make the foam cups, plates, and clamshells that are sometimes referred to as Styrofoam. Other forms of polystyrene are used to make certain clear or solid plastic cups, lids, straws, utensils, as well as other food-service ware.
How do I know if something is made out of polystyrene?
Polystyrene food-service ware or packaging is marked with the plastic resin code #6 (PS) somewhere on the product or on the box containing the product.
Alternatives to Polystyrene
Alternatives to polystyrene food-service ware and packaging include items made from paper, other plant fiber (such as from sugarcane, rice, or bamboo) or recyclable products such as glass, metal or plastic types #1, #2, #3, #4 or #5.
|Food-Service Ware or Packaging Product||Alternative Material|
|trays, lidded containers||aluminum (excluding paper with foil backing)|
|cold cups, hinged and lidded containers, cutlery, bag||compostable plastic i.e. “bioplastic*” (off-white, clear and green)|
|bowls, boxes, cups, plates, napkins, paper straws||paper (brown, white, off-white)|
|hinged containers, tray, cup holders||plant fiber i.e. sugarcane, wheat straw, bagasse or rice (brown,white,off-white)|
|cups and lids, cutlery, hinged containers, plates||plastic: #1 (PET OR PETE), #2 (HDPE), #3 PVC, #4 (LDPE), #5 (PP)|
NOTE: Compostable products must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute as “compostable”, also referred to as “BPI Certified.” Visit the Biodegradable Products Institute site for more information.
*While most bioplastic products are recyclable, not all are compostable or biodegradable. A “bio-based” product does not guarantee it is compostable or even biodegradable. You can check the Biodegradable Products Institute database to confirm a product is compostable.
Where can these alternatives be purchased?
Alternatives to polystyrene can be purchased from many retail or online stores. Refer to the “Vendors of Compostable or Recyclable Food Service Ware” link available in the FAQ section of this page.
NOTE: The City of Takoma Park does not endorse/ promote or certify the quality of service provided by any business, institution or entity. The information is solely provided for informational purposes.
Exceptions to the Law
The following items are exempt from the polystyrene packaging ban:
- factory-sealed, aseptically-packaged shelf-stable foods;
- polystyrene coolers and ice chests;
- polystyrene-packaged raw eggs; and
- uncooked meat, fish, poultry, or seafood for off-premises preparation and consumption.
Businesses can request a waiver due to safety or health reasons, a lack of non-polystyrene alternatives, or other hardship conditions. The request for consideration of a waiver must be made to the City Manager, who can provide a temporary waiver up to a two year period.
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