Home » Long Beach Recycles » Waste Reduction » Foam Free LB » EPS Ordinance FAQs

Foam Free LBFoam Free LB

EPS Ordinance FAQs

  • What is the Expanded Polystyrene Ordinance?

    The ordinance adds a chapter (8.63) to the municipal code of Long Beach which prohibits the use of single-use food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, rigid polystyrene #6, and non-recyclable and non-compostable material for prepared food distribution.

    View the Ordinance

    View Administrative Rules

  • Why did the city adopt this ordinance?

    The City adopted this ordinance to address 3 major issues:

    1.  Litter – Expanded Polystyrene easily becomes liter because it is lightweight and breaks up into microplastics during travel, making it hard to recover and clean up. Expanded Polystyrene will also not degrade in our lifetime.
    2.  Health - The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that styrene is a “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen.”
    3. Waste Prevention - Food-soiled expanded polystyrene is not recyclable and is designed to only be used one time. The City wants to prevent waste and decrease the amount of single-use disposable material.
  • When will the ordinance take effect?

    The ordinance was signed on May 4, 2018 by the mayor and was adopted 30 days later, on June 3, 2018. It takes effect in three phases:

    Phase 1

    September 3, 2018

    Phase 2

    March 3, 2019

    Phase 3

    December 3, 2019

    City Government
    o City departments
    o City-owned and leased facilities
    o Renters or lessees of City properties
    o City contractors & vendors while doing business with the City
    o **City-sponsored events
    o **City-permitted events

    **City-sponsored or City-permitted events for which authorizations or permits were issued prior to the operative date of this Ordinance are exempt. City-sponsored or City-permitted events which are authorized or permitted for multiple years must comply within three hundred sixty-five (365) days of the operative of this ordinance.


    Prepared Food Sales
    Large businesses

     Large food providers, defined as those providing or selling prepared food to the general public for on-site or take-away consumption, include restaurants seating more than 101 persons. This tier includes: any franchise restaurant, grocery or convenience store, any food truck, and Long Beach Unified School District.

    Prepared Food Sales
    Small businesses

    Small food providers, defined as those providing or selling prepared food to the general public for on-site or take-away consumption, include restaurants seating fewer than 100 persons. This tier also includes all other providers
    Prohibits retail sales of polystyrene ice chests, polystyrene bean bags, and crafts; include that utensils and straws are given upon request for take away items

  • Where else are there similar bans?

    There are 101 jurisdictions in California with similar ordinances as of May 2017.
    Nationally about 144 U.S. jurisdictions limit single-use polystyrene food ware, citing reasons such as litter prevention, public health & waste reduction. Many of these are adjacent to major waterways.

  • How do businesses comply with the ordinance?

    • Stop the use and distribution of all prohibited take-out food and beverage material including Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), rigid Polystyrene #6 plastic, and composite, non-recyclable or non-compostable materials.
    • By December 3, 2019, the ordinance will expand to also prohibit the sale of crafting material, coolers and ice chests. 
    • By December 3, 2019, straws and utensils for take-away foods shall only be provided upon customer request.
  • How Do City Events and City Facilities Comply With The Ordinance?

    • No food or beverage should be sold or served in a polystyrene container in any City Facility or City-sponsored event, activity, or meeting open to the public.
    • The City, its departments, its City contractors, agents, and employees acting in their official capacity, shall not purchase, acquire or distribute for public use any polystyrene food service ware or disposables that are neither Recyclable nor Compostable, or Polystyrene Coolers.
    • No person, vendor, business or event promoter may sell, rent or otherwise provide any polystyrene product except as exempted.
  • What types of containers are allowed under the ordinance?

    • Acceptable and Recommended containers include: aluminum, paper, or plastics with the number 1, 2 or 5. Often these numbers are located on the bottom of the item.


    • Acceptable but NOT recommended = Compostable plastics are not recommended as an alternative products because residents of Long Beach cannot compost any sort of compostable plastic in their residential curbside collection program.
    • Prohibited = expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, rigid polystyrene #6, and non-recyclable and non-compostable plastics.

    The City has put together an easy reference guide to highlight the recommended compliant materials. View Compliant Product Guide

  • What are the non-compliance penalties?

    A violation of this ordinance shall be punishable under the administrative citation procedures set forth in Chapter 9.65 of the municipal code. The fine imposed for a particular violation shall be in the amount set forth in the administrative citation schedule established by resolution of the City Council.

  • What are other resources provided bt The City of Long Beach to help residents and businesses comply with the ordinance?

    For more information on how you as a Long Beach resident can help keep Long Beach Foam Free, visit our Resources for Residents Page.

    For more information to help Long Beach businesses comply with the new ordinance and participate in our economic incentive program, visit our Resources for Business Page 

    Business may apply for our Economic Incentive Program