NEW Polystyrene Ban in SLO County Begins April 9, 2020

A new ordinance affecting ALL San Luis Obispo County businesses and non-profits using polystyrene begins April 9, 2020. The ordinance requires food and beverage purveyors, stores, businesses and non-profits to stop using and/or selling plastic resin code #6 — also known as polystyrene or EPS.

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is plastic #6, usually marked by a resin code (the chasing arrows symbol) with a #6 inside. Items made from polystyrene include packing peanuts, egg cartons, meat trays, cups, clamshells, bowls, plates, utensils, trays, wrappers, platters, condiment containers, cartons, drinkware, ice chests, shipping boxes, straws, non-encapsulated marine devices and other packaging materials.

Who Does the Ordinance Apply To?

The ordinance applies to food and beverage providers, catering companies, nonprofits, stores and businesses using and/or selling resin code #6 polystyrene. A food and beverage provider means any vendor located or providing food or beverages within San Luis Obispo County and includes — without limitation — any store, shop, sales outlet, restaurant, grocery store, supermarket, delicatessen, food/catering truck or vehicle, including vendors located outside of the County when delivering prepared food or beverages inside SLO County. Notify your suppliers!

Why Is SLO County Implementing This Ordinance?

Since resin code #6 — polystyrene or EPS polystyrene — is not biodegradable when it becomes trash (meaning it is not able to be broken down or consumed by living organisms such as bacteria or fungi), products made from these materials can’t decay naturally, so they will remain as-is. Oftentimes, these materials break down into smaller pieces and fragments that pollute our land and waterways. A clean community is good for tourism, and we all share a common vision to protect San Luis Obispo’s economic future.

Several of our cities already have EPS bans in place, including Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. This ordinance will extend this ban to the entire County, where we join a growing number of cities around the world in addressing the pollution in our communities, oceans and streams. Packaging and products that are first reusable, recyclable, and/or biodegradable are the most responsible choices for San Luis Obispo County’s tourist economy, its citizenry and its environment. When packaging and products are reusable or recyclable, we transition away from the linear take-make-dispose model of consumption, to one that spares natural resources as less energy is used to produce new products.

What Products Should I Be Using Instead?

Instead of polystyrene, use products that are reusable, recyclable or biodegradable, such as aluminum or polypropylene. For more information about acceptable alternatives and where they are available for purchase, visit

How Will This Ordinance Be Implemented?

Find out more details about implementation and compliance in our toolkit. Wish to file for an exemption? Visit


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