Santa Cruz City Ordinance to Reduce Amount of Disposable Food Service Ware Effective March 8


 | March 1, 2022

Image: La Cabaña Taqueria Manager Frita Landeros

SANTA CRUZ —The City of Santa Cruz compliance date for its 2020 update to the Environmentally Acceptable Packaging and Products Ordinance is effective on March 8, 2022 when its definitions of “compostable” and “biodegradable” will be expanded.

The climate-friendly changes include:

  • Disposable food service ware must be fiber-based, and certified free of intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by the Biodegradable Products Institute or other third-party certification entity.
  • A required $0.25 fee on hot and cold drinks sold in disposable cups which businesses may keep.
  • Expansion of the “Upon Request” mandate for straws, utensils, condiments and other accessories across all ordering platforms including online and third party delivery apps like Grub Hub, Door Dash, etc.

The Ordinance update also encourages businesses to utilize durable/washable dishware and utensils when possible and fill customer-owned clean and reusable cups and containers to reduce disposables.

Business owners have experienced positives from early compliance.

 “Since accepting personal containers, and advertising it, we have a growing number of regulars who come here for that exact reason,”said La Cabaña Taqueria Manager Frita Landeros. “Creates word of mouth marketing — people even bring larger containers to purchase a week’s worth of our homemade salsa!”

“When we educate people about the to-go fee they opt for a ‘here’ drink,” said Flower Bar owner Sharon Schneider. “We have regulars who also come here because they know they can use their reusable cup.”

The Ordinance update was extended from 2020 to 2022 given the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local businesses.

The updated Environmentally Acceptable Packaging and Products Ordinance can be accessed at may be addressed to Waste Reduction Manager Leslie O’Malley at or (831) 420-5593.

Flower Bar owner Sharon Schneider with reusable cup


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