On May 8, 2017 the City Council adopted an ordinance that bans the sale and use of certain polystyrene products. This webpage is dedicated to providing information about the ban, informing the Culver City community on how to identify polystyrene products, providing a list of suitable alternatives, and where to purchase them.
What is polystyrene?
Plastic products come in seven different formulations to meet the rigidity and functionality needs of a particular use. The Resin Identification Code Number assigned to polystyrene plastic products is 6. Expanded polystyrene (foam) is used to manufacture foam food containers such as cups, bowls, plates, and clamshell containers in addition to foam coolers that are not encased in other material, meat trays, egg cartons and packing materials. Polystyrene is also used to manufacture hard plastic items (solid) such as cups, straws, lids, cutlery and food containers (see examples below). Note: Polystyrene foam is commonly referred to as “Styrofoam,” although this brand does not manufacture food ware.
Then check out Culver City's very own Polystyrene Ban Video:
Polystyrene products may be unidentified or be identified by a No. 6 encapsulated by three chasing arrows that form a triangle, often depicted by one of the following three images:
Examples of Polystyrene Foam Products
Examples of Polystyrene Solid Plastic Products
What is banned?
- A prohibition on the citywide sale and food service provider’s use of single-use polystyrene foam food containers such as cups, bowls, plates, and clamshell containers in addition to foam coolers that are not encased in another material. (In addition to food providers, Culver City retailers are prohibited from selling foam coolers not encased in other material and all single-use polystyrene foam food ware products except meat trays, egg cartons and packing materials.)
- A prohibition on the citywide food service provider’s use of single-use polystyrene solid plastic food containers such as cups, bowls, plates, clamshell containers, cutlery, straws, and cup lids. (However, these items may be sold by City retailers).
What is NOT banned?
- All unprepared food using polystyrene food ware may be sold by City retailers and prepared food providers (example: Cup of Noodles-Ramen).
- The sale or use of foam packing materials used in shipping containers and trays used for the sale of unprepared foods (examples: egg cartons, trays used in grocery stores to sell produce, meat, poultry and fish).
- Food brought by individuals for personal consumption to City facilities including City parks, provided the City facility is being used for individual recreation and the person’s use of the City facility is not part of an event requiring a rental agreement or permit.
- Prepared food that is prepared or packaged outside of the City, provided however, that such food is not altered or repackaged within City limits.
To whom does the ban apply?
Prepared Food Providers and City Facilities:
- Prohibited: Use of polystyrene food ware at all City facilities, including members of the public who rent City facilities for their private use.
- Prohibited: Use of polystyrene food ware at all City special events that are open to the public to attend, regardless if they are privately produced or City-sponsored.
- Prohibited: Use of polystyrene food ware by all prepared food service providers including restaurants, grocery store deli’s, retailers, hotels/motels with restaurants, caterers, food trucks, convenience stores and farmers’ markets.
- Prohibited: The sale of foam polystyrene single-use food ware containers, cups, bowls and plates.
- Not prohibited: The sale of solid polystyrene single-use food ware containers, cups, cup lids, bowls, plates, cutlery, and straws
Prohibited: The sale of polystyrene foam coolers not encased in another material.
May a prepared food service provider apply for an exemption?
Yes. Prepared food providers may use solid polystyrene products that are included in the City’s list of exempt food ware products without applying for a hardship exemption (see below). Currently, there are no items contained in the list however, food ware items are evaluated annually and a list may be created in the future.
An exemption to the ban may be provided for a one-year period if a food service provider demonstrates that the ban would cause undue hardship, which is defined as follows:
Situations unique to the food provider where there are no reasonable alternatives to polystyrene food ware exist and compliance with the ban would cause significant economic hardship to that food provider; or
Situations where no reasonably feasible alternatives exists for a specific and necessary polystyrene food ware item.
What is the penalty for not complying?
Violators are subject to the penalties and other provisions contained in CCMC Title 1, Chapter §1.01 General Provisions and Chapter §1.02 Administrative Citations:
- $100 fine for the first offense
- $200 for the second offense
- $500 for each offense thereafter
Those persons who rent a City facility through execution of an agreement and are found to use, sell or distribute polystyrene food ware will forfeit their security deposit.
How do I Report a Violation?
You may report polystyrene foodware product sale or use violations by contacting the City’s Environmental Programs and Operations Department by calling 310-253-6423.
"Do you want cutlery?"
In order to reduce waste, prepared food service providers are now required to ask their customers whether they want cutlery included with their take-out order (instead of automatically including it.)
We have Back-of-the-Register Posters available for all businesses interested:
Alternative Product Resources
The following firms and alternative food ware products are provided for your convenience. Their inclusion does not imply that the firms or the alternative food ware products they sell are endorsed by the City.
There are a variety of alternative food ware products to polystyrene to choose from. Just check out our downloadable Polystyrene Alternatives Reference Catalog
Or any of these Polystyrene Alternative resources:
Alternative Product Suppliers
Suppliers of alternative food ware products are listed below.