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San Francisco Bans PFAS Chemicals in Single Use Food Service Ware

SafeGuardSAugust 20, 2018

San Francisco becomes the first city in the US to prohibit PFAS chemicals in single-use food service ware. This provision in the new law will become effective on January 1, 2020.

On August 10, 2018, the mayor of San Francisco in the US state of California approved measures to amend Chapter 16 of its Environmental Code on Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance [1]. The new law, Ordinance 201-18 (File No. 180519) [2], amends the city’s Environmental Code and prohibits the use of PFAS chemicals in single-use food service ware.

According to the definitions in the amendment, ‘Food service ware’, ‘Food service ware accessory’ and ‘PFAS chemicals’, have the following definitions:

  • ‘Food service ware’ means food contact products that are designed for a single use for prepared foods, such as bowls, containers, forks, knives, lids, napkins, plates, spoons, straws, trays and similar items. ‘Food service ware’ includes ‘Food service ware accessories’ but does not include items made entirely of aluminum, or polystyrene foam coolers and ice chests.
  • ‘Food service ware accessory’ means single-use items that are usually provided alongside prepared food in single-use plates or cups, such as condiment packets, chopsticks, cup lids, cup sleeves, food or beverage trays and napkins, and cocktail sticks, saucers, splash sticks, stirrers, straws and toothpicks that are designed for a single use for prepared foods.
  • PFAS chemicals are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.

PFAS chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products, such as non-stick pans, microwavable bags and disposable containers and wrappers. These chemicals repel water and grease and are commonly used in or on single-use service ware products.

Other important provisions in the new Ordinance include:

  • Adding a new definition for ‘Reusable Beverage Cup’, which requires the vessel or container to be reused at least 100 times and is dishwasher safe.
  • Prohibiting cocktail sticks, splash sticks, stirrers, straws or toothpicks made with plastic, including compostable, bio- or plant-based plastic.
  • Requiring ‘Event Producers’ providing prepared food beverages at events to allow attendees to have access to ‘Reusable Beverage Cups’.
  • Revising the definition of ‘Compostable’.

The new Ordinance will be implemented in phases, starting July 1, 2019.

Highlights on the provision to prohibit PFAS chemicals in single-use food service ware are summarized in Table 1.

San Francisco Ordinance No. 201-18 (File No. 180519), August 10, 2018
Provision on PFAS-containing single-use food service ware
SubstanceScopeRequirementEffective Date
PFAS chemicalsSingle-use food service wareProhibitedJanuary 1, 2020

Table 1

In the US, San Francisco now joins California [3] and Washington [4] in regulating the use of PFAS chemicals.

Next step:

Stakeholders are advised to ensure their products comply with the latest requirements for PFAS chemicals for San Francisco.

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy for PFAS chemicals in food contact materials and articles for the US and international markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: +852 2774 7420

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