Food Ware Ordinance 2020

In January 2019, California passed AB 1884 requiring businesses to only provide straws upon customer request. The City of Union City is building on the state mandate by requiring businesses to offer compostable or reusable straws instead of single-use plastic straws.

Why is the City regulating single-use straws and other food ware items?

Plastic straws are not recyclable or biodegradable. Plastic litter ends up in storms drains that flow to the Bay and other waterways, causing harm to fish, birds, and other marine life.

What does the new law require?

The ordinance amends Municipal Code Chapter 7.06, “City of Union City Food Ware Ordinance” to:  

  • Prohibit food providers from distributing single-use plastic straws. Straws must be compostable or reusable.
  • Require food providers and food delivery services to only provide disposable food ware accessory items upon customer request or at self-serve areas. Food ware accessory items include disposable utensils, napkins, condiment cups and packets, drink lids, sleeves, stirrers, and splash sticks.

Compliant straw examples                                         

The following straw types are compostable*:

  • Paper
  • Hay
  • Bamboo Fiber
  • Agave Fiber
  • Rice 
  • Seaweed

We encourage waste reduction by using reusable straws:

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Silicone
  • Bamboo
  • Acrylic

*Compostable plastics such as plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) plastic straws are not accepted since these do not breakdown at the composting facility.

Who is affected? 

Food providers including, but not limited to:

  • Restaurants
  • Fast-food establishments
  • Bars
  • Coffee & Tea Shops
  • Convenience Stores
  • City Facility Users

When will the regulation go into effect? 

The City’s amendment to the Food Ware Ordinance is effective January 1, 2020 with enforcement beginning July 1, 2020. This six month grace period will allow businesses adequate time to transition to viable compostable straws and deplete any remaining supply of single-use plastic straws.

As with the City’s Food Ware Ordinance banning Styrofoam to-go containers, enforcement will be complaint-based and driven by public reports. Staff’s goal is to work closely with non-compliant businesses, helping them to identify suitable alternative products as opposed to issuing fines.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, please contact us: 510-675-5466 or 510-675-5353, or by e-mail: 

robertom@unioncity.org or jenniferc@unioncity.org.