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Plastic Waste Reduction Ordinance

Single Use Plastic Introduction

What are Single-Use Plastics and why is it a concern?

Single-Use plastics are items made from fossil fuel-based chemicals that are meant to be disposed of after one use – often, in mere minutes. Plastic and paper cups, cutlery, napkins, and other takeout containers are NOT recyclable locally and even a lot of "compostable" takeout containers is not accepted in local compost programs. All of these items end up in local landfills. 

What is the plan to address this problem? 

We plan to address the growing global problem of single use plastic waste by developing a Single Use Plastic Reduction Ordinance that starts by mandating better food ware options and eliminating unnecessary accessories to reduce plastic litter, stormwater pollution, and reduce the use of energy and resources. The most sustainable option is to reduce dependency on single-use items altogether by switching to reusable, real dishware whenever possible. The Ordinance will also meet the objectives of the City’s Climate Action Plan, help us reach our waste reduction goals, and help maintain clean and beautiful public spaces.  

Check back at this site for the latest updates or send questions to zerowaste@burbankca.gov

Learn about the upcoming Plastic Waste Reduction Ordinance Policy, its goals and purpose, how it impacts your business, and what resources for technical assistance and implementation are available by watching this webinar. 

Restaurants/takeout are now prohibited from providing single-use items unless requested by a customer. This "upon request" state policy joins other restricted items, like water (sit-down dining) and straws, to reduce needless waste.

additional resources

Single Use is Rubbish 
Much of this material ends up in local landfills or even worse, as litter that creeps into waterways which flow to Los Angeles County beaches and the Pacific Ocean.

  • In 2016, the U.S. generated more plastic trash than any other country—46.3 million tons of it, according to a 2020 study published in Science Advances. That's 287 pounds per person in a single year! 

  • Plastic production is expected to more than double by 2050, and even if it doesn't, the plastic trash that people continue to throw away will still have to go somewhere (Consumer Reports). 

  • The problem with plastic recycling is that it is expensive to collect and sort. There are now thousands of different types of plastic, and none of them can be melted down together. Plastic also degrades after one or two uses.   

Plastic is Toxic If it Persists in the Environment

  • By the time these disposable products are in your hands, they've already taken a toll on the planet: Plastics are mostly made from fossil fuels, in an energy-intensive process that emits greenhouse gases and creates often hazardous chemicals.  

  • Millions of tons of plastic floats in the ocean in giant islands of plastic trash.

  • While it floats and degrades, the plastic leaches marine-toxic chemicals into the water (MarineSafe).

  • Unknown quantities have broken down into tiny toxic microplastic particles that act in the same way as micro beads, attracting and binding other pollutants and making themselves more toxic in the process. 

  • Greenpeace found the more plastic is reused the more toxic it becomes (NPR).

How businesses benefit 
Reducing the quantities of single-use items provided to customers saves money. Policies like AB 1276 ("upon request" accessories) also puts all food service businesses on the same playing field to ease customer concerns or confusion. 

Banning PFAS in Food Ware: 
AB 1200 and AB 1201 are new California laws that prohibit the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging and goods marked as compostable as of Jan. 1, 2025. PFAS, dubbed “forever chemicals,” are synthetic molecules that don’t break down in the environment and are linked as contributors to a host of health issues. The new law also requires manufacturers of such packaging to use “the least toxic alternative” when replacing PFAS.

Better Food Ware Options:  
Single-use plastic items use more water, energy and resources to produce than what would be needed to wash reusable items. Businesses can do their part now in reducing this waste by starting to make the transition away from polystyrene and other unrecyclable takeout ware. Ask your current supplier about more sustainable alternatives. 

Resources for Transitioning to Reusables and More Sustainable Options

Encourage Customers to BYO (Bring Your Own) 

  • Offer discounts to provide incentives 
  • Containers for leftovers  
  • Cups for refilling

Make sure you communicate to your customers all the sustainable efforts your business is making. It also helps to keep your employees motivated and establish consistent operating procedures.