Single-Use Foodware Rules
Businesses selling prepared food must follow guidelines to reduce their usage of single-use foodware. The rules apply to all businesses selling prepared food, and include guidance for both on-site dining and takeout.
All businesses selling prepared food are required to follow guidelines for disposable foodware for both on-site and takeout dining. The guidelines are designed to limit the amount of waste generated by single-use foodware.
The guidelines apply to all businesses selling prepared food, including:
- Restaurants and food trucks
- Cafes and bakeries
- Grocery stores and drugstores
- Markets and festivals
On-site dining requirements
Businesses that allow customers to eat on-site must use reusable foodware (e.g. plates, cups) and must provide color-coded bins for composting, recycling, and trash.
Businesses offering on-site dining must use reusable (durable/washable) foodware to serve customers eating on the premises. Food vendors may either provide cleaning and sanitation facilities on-site or contract with a service for off-site cleaning.
No single-use disposable foodware is allowed for on-site dining, with the following exceptions:
- Paper tray liners, paper wrappers, napkins, and BPI-Certified bioplastic or paper straws are allowed for dining on-premises. Paper napkins and paper straws should be offered upon request or at self-serve stations.
- Recyclable aluminum foil is allowed for wrapping/forming items (i.e. burritos/wraps).
Color-coded recycling and compost bins
Prepared food businesses that allow self-bussing must provide color-coded receptacles for customers to separate their recyclables, compostables, and landfill waste that is generated onsite. Post signage above and/or on the recycling, compost, and landfill receptacles.
- Blue for recyclable containers (bottles, cans, foil, rigid plastic containers)
- Green for compost (food scraps, food-soiled paper)
- Black or gray for landfilled items (small plastics, plastic film/bags)
Apply for a free green compost receptacle from Alameda County.
Takeout dining requirements
Businesses offering takeout must use BPI-certified compostable foodware, charge $0.25 for disposable cups, and provide disposable accessory items (e.g. straws, napkins, utensils) only upon request.
BPI-Certified compostable foodware
Disposable foodware is allowed for “to-go” orders, but all take-out foodware must be BPI-Certified Compostable. No single-use plastic allowed.
Find BPI-Certified suppliers and vendors through BPI’s website.
$0.25 Charge for Disposable Cups
Prepared Food Vendors must charge twenty-five cents ($0.25) for every disposable beverage cup provided. This charge is intended to incentivize customers to utilize reusable cups.
Download and print signage to notify customers of the charge.
Itemize charges for disposable cups separately on any post-sale receipt provided to the customer and clearly identify the charge on media such as menus, ordering platforms, and menu boards. Customers placing orders by phone shall be informed verbally of the disposable cup charges.
- Businesses are not required to increase prices to add the $0.25 charge. The charge for the disposable cup must simply be itemized separately.
- The $0.25 charge cannot be applied to any reusable cups supplied by a customer at the point of sale. Prepared food vendors can refuse to fill unsuitable or unsanitary cups provided by customers.
- All customers demonstrating a payment card or voucher issued by the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT) are exempt from the disposable cup charge.
Disposable Accessory Items Upon Request
Disposable accessory items (e.g. straws, stirrers, napkins, utensils, condiment cups/packets, cup sleeves, tops, lids, spill plugs, and any other similar accessory or accompanying disposable foodware item used as part of food or beverage service or packaging) are to be provided only upon customer request or at self-serve stations. Download and print signage to notify customers that accessory items are available on request.
- All disposable accessory items must be BPI-Certified compostable, with the exception of paper napkins or natural wood accessories (i.e. wood utensils, toothpicks, stirrers) which are accepted in the compost program without any certification necessary.
- Online food delivery platforms must provide an opt-in option for accessory items.
Resources for businesses
The City of Berkeley offers on-site technical assistance to support the transition to reusable foodware. Email email@example.com to request a free consultation.
Enforcement and waivers
Enforcement is currently complaint-based only. Enforcement includes a written notice of noncompliance, an offer of technical assistance or other resources to help businesses comply, and an opportunity to comply or to initiate a request for a waiver, if applicable. To submit a complaint regarding a non-compliant business, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the business address and "Foodware Ordinance Enforcement" in the subject line.
Businesses may qualify for a waiver under the following circumstances:
- Unavailability of on-site or off-site dishwashing capacity or inability to contract for services to wash, rinse and sanitize reusable foodware due to insurmountable space constraints, undue financial hardship, and/or other extraordinary insurmountable circumstances. If a business receives a waiver from the reusable foodware requirement for onsite dining, all disposable foodware must still be BPI-certified compostable.
- If no BPI-Certified compostable disposable foodware item(s) exist(s) with substantially similar size, performance and/or utility or, if such an item exists, that costs of using such item would cause undue financial hardship. If a business receives a waiver for BPI-Certified foodware item(s), the item(s) must be recyclable in the City of Berkeley recyclable collection program.
If you believe you qualify for a waiver, fill out a waiver application form and email with any attached documentation to Heidi Obermeit. Title the subject line “Foodware Ordinance Waiver Request.” Contact email@example.com or (510) 981-6357 with any questions.