Richmond’s Plastic Food Ware Ban Takes Effect Next Month

RP Staff Report

Plastics may soon be a lingering mistake of the past. Beginning Dec. 15, straws and stirrers made from any kind of plastic will be prohibited from use or distribution by food, retail and lodging establishments in Richmond. Straws and stirrers of a non-plastic alternative, however, may still be provided to costumers upon request.

In May, the Richmond City Council passed an amendment to the City’s Food Ware Ordinance, requiring all disposable lids and utensils be made from a recyclable or compostable material, such as paper.

The ordinance was first launched in 2010, requiring the use of recyclable or compostable disposable take-out containers by food providers. Styrofoam cannot be recycled by the City’s solid waste hauler and must be placed in the trash. The ordinance was amended in 2014 prohibiting the sale of polystyrene products, known as Styrofoam, by retail establishments. The 2018 amendment is a continuation of those rules.

As the City attempts to reduce the negative impact of climate change and environmental degradation, the Richmond Environmental and Health Initiatives Division developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to achieve its zero waste goals. Management of disposables meets that marker.

The initial cost of recyclable and compostable food ware might prove difficult for businesses that lack the resources. To assist in the transition, the City encourages qualifying businesses to utilize KIVA Richmond or the Richmond Revolving Loan Program. Businesses are encouraged to contact City staff with any questions about the ordinance, compliance or additional programs.

Local businesses should have received a postcard in October with information regarding the upcoming changes. Failure to adhere to ordinance will result in an administrative citation.

Not all businesses are obligated to comply with December’s ordinance but should review its details to make sure. For more information, visit or call 510-620-5407.

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