Polystyrene Ban

Contra Costa County Bans Styrofoam 

Why is the County Banning Polystyrene (Styrofoam) and Where does the Ban Apply? 

Polystyrene production uses hydrofluorocarbons, identified as a contributor to the hole in the ozone layer

Polystyrene is not biodegradable, is not recyclable (economically), and breaks into micro-pieces in the environment

Styrene, the main component of polystyrene, has been classified as a possible human carcinogen

Polystyrene chemicals can leach into food stored in polystyrene containers

The Polystyrene ban only applies outside city limits in unincorporated communities

What are the County Objectives in Adopting a Polystyrene Ban?

Adopt a ban that is consistent with most of the surrounding city bans

Follow an adoption process that maximizes outreach to stakeholders and parties of interest

Reduce trash and solid waste, increase recyclables, improve water quality, and protect the environment

What is Included in the Ban on Polystyrene?

  • Polystyrene food and beverage containers would be banned
  • A six-month grace period would be included, allowing business to exhaust existing supplies
  • Compostable containers would not be required
  • Replacement food and beverage containers would have to be recyclable
  • County Departments would be precluded from using polystyrene food or beverage containers
  • Prepared foods packaged outside the County would be exempt

Where do I send Comments on the Polystyrene Ban?

If you have comments email Michele Mancuso or call at 925-313-2236.

Discussion: Of the 19 cities and towns in Contra Costa County, ten have adopted a polystyrene ban, the earliest in 1993. All ordinances ban the use of polystyrene food containers, while three ban the use of other polystyrene products like packing peanuts, packaging materials, and ice chests. To be consistent with most of the surrounding cities, the County is only banning food and beverage containers in unincorporated communities. The County is required to reduce trash in its waterways. In the environment, polystyrene containers break down into smaller and smaller pieces, creating more trash than alternative food and beverage containers.

Polystyrene Flyer (PDF)

Polystyrene Outreach Letter (PDF)

Environmentally-Friendly Food Packing Ordinance No. 2019-25 (Polystyrene Ban)


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