Food To-Go Container Compliance Program

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News Date: 
February 8, 2017
Compostable Take Out Containers Salad And Drink
Take Out Has Never Tasted So GOOD!

All food providers within Salinas must use products that are biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable for their "to-go" containers. This is because the City of Salinas has an Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance that restricts the use of expanded polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam®). 

Salinas Municipal Code Chapter 14  

  • No plastic straws (paper is acceptable)
  • No plastic stir sticks (wood is fine)
  • All single-use cups (hot or cold) must be certified compostable
  • All to-go cutlery must be certified compostable
  • No Styrofoam®
  • No #6 polystyrene products (including hot cup lids)
  • All to-go containers must be recyclable or certified compostable
How can you be certain a product is compostable? Check for the BPI label.
BPI Compostable product label

There has been a lot of confusion in recent years as many new products advertised as “recyclable,” “biodegradable,” or “compostable” have reached the market. While some have deserved the label, others have not, and it has been difficult for businesses and consumers to tell which products are legitimate.  

Many plastic products are challenging to recycle due to their small size, or because they are made of a type of plastic that is difficult to recycle; Examples include plastic stir sticks for coffee, plastic straws, and coffee lids made of polystyrene.

Many paper products, especially coffee cups, are coated with plastic that is very difficult to separate from the paper, meaning almost all paper cups go to the landfill. But, there are alternatives.

Determining which products are “compostable” has been even more confusing. Some products carrying this label actually don’t break down at all during composting. But now there is an independent standard; Tests that scientifically prove material will biodegrade, leaving no synthetic residues. 

The independent Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) ensures that products advertised as compostable actually break down in a commercial compost facility. BPI marks such products with the Compostable Logo, designed to eliminate any confusion. The most certain way to tell if your product/packaging is compostable is to check if it displays the BPI label. 

Fortunately, compostable food service ware is now widely available and competitively priced. BPI certified products are available from most food service suppliers. See their product catalog.

Talk to your food service supplier about available products.