City Food Packaging Requirements


The City Council approved revisions to Municipal Code Chapter 8.68 that require all restaurants and food vendors operating in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea to utilize compostable or recyclable options for disposable food packaging, and to only provide straws and utensils upon request.

The City code continues to prohibit the use of polystyrene (labeled as no. 6 plastic).

Many small disposable food packaging products are not recyclable and must be switched to compostable alternatives. These include: 

  • Disposable utensils,
  • Hot beverage cups,
  • Plastic-lined paper plates,
  • Plastic straws.

Recyclable products that have contained food are often also contaminated and end up in the trash. With many certified compostable alternatives now available on the market, our best solution is using certified compostable food packaging that can be disposed of in the food waste composting bin (the “yellow bin”). For a list of products that carry this certification, please visit BPI’s website (

Requirements at a Glance

By February 1, 2018, restaurants shall provide single-use beverage straws and to-go utensils only if requested by a customer.

By April 22, 2018, all disposable food service ware provided to customers by restaurants and food vendors shall be biodegradable/compostable, or recyclable.  This includes:

  • All single-use beverage straws and stir sticks must be certified compostable
  • All hot beverage cups must be certified compostable
  • All disposable to-go utensils must be certified compostable
  • No number 6 polystyrene products are allowed, including hot cup lids

These rules apply to restaurants, grocery stores, delis, farmers markets, food trucks, special events, and any other business or event where prepared food is sold for carryout or packaged for convenience. PLEASE TALK TO YOUR SUPPLIERS as many local food service suppliers have products that meet these requirements. 

All restaurants and food vendors will need their suppliers to complete and maintain the Environmentally-Acceptable Food Packaging and Food Service Ware Statement to certify compliance with the City’s requirements. 

Food Packaging Statement Form

Organics Recycling

Starting January 2019, all businesses producing four (4) cubic yards or more of trash are required to compost food waste material.

By composting, we keep organic material out of landfills and return nutrients to the soil. The benefits of composting include building healthy soil, conserving water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Contact GreenWaste Recovery at (831) 920-6707 to learn more about our recycling and food waste program options and to arrange a visit to assess your needs and discuss service options.

GreenWaste Recovery offers FREE onsite technical assistance to provide the support necessary to effectively participate in recycling and organics programs.