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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we worried about single-use plastic articles?  

Plastics are petroleum-based materials that persist in the environment without ever fully degrading, resulting in adverse impacts at all stages of their lifecycle. In the United States, the EPA reported that only 9% of plastic waste was recycled in 2018, most of which comprised single-use products and packaging, including foodware (1). This statistic is likely even lower today following the COVID-19 pandemic and considering restrictions on waste exports and the growing reach of single-use culture. The remainder of this plastic waste was landfilled, incinerated, or littered, with environmental and human health impacts resulting from impaired water quality and the proliferation of microplastics. In California, the accumulation of plastic litter on our streets and in the ocean is also an economic strain on the State's taxpayers, with cleanup efforts costing millions of dollars annually (2).

 

What is the background of this ordinance?

The City's ordinance aligns with statewide efforts to phase out single-use plastics and builds off an analogous ordinance adopted by Los Angeles County in April 2022 (3). Locally, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood have all adopted similar ordinances. It also extends the impact of the City's ordinance regulating the distribution of disposable foodware accessories (4).  

In June 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 54, the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (5). This law focuses on single-use packaging and food service ware, outlining a comprehensive statutory framework that will shift the plastic pollution burden from consumers to the plastic industry and require 100% compostable and recyclable materials by 2032.

 

Why should I switch to reusable and compostable alternatives? 

Transitioning to reusable and compostable foodware articles alleviates many environmental harms from plastic production and disposal (6).

Reusable items reduce waste production and result in lower lifetime impacts than disposables. If reusables are not appropriate for your business, compostable items are your next best option. They can be produced without fossil fuels and readily degrade alongside organic materials when disposed of in the green bin or otherwise diverted from the landfill for compost.  

Depending on the fiber source, fiber production impacts vary (7). For example, bagasse and wheat straw are fibrous agricultural byproducts and, therefore, have a lesser ecological impact than virgin tree-based materials. While compostable single-use articles provide significant benefits over plastic foodware items, an emphasis on waste reduction through a system of reuse and refill is the future of sustainable food service. 

Foodware Material Hierarchy - from most to least preferred
Foodware Material Hierarchy

 

What happens to single-use articles after we use them? 

The City's waste hauler collects all foodware disposed of in the City of Beverly Hills and operates programs for diverting recyclables from the landfill. It also processes fiber-based compostable foodware alongside other organics. For optimal results, please put compostable single-use articles in the green bin.

Plastic items with resin codes 3, 4, 6, or 7, small plastic single-use articles such as cutlery, dark-colored plastics, and plastic bags and wrappers go to the landfill.

 

What is the difference between plastic types? 

The term "plastic" encompasses a group of materials with varying properties and most commonly refers to synthetic materials made from petroleum-based polymers. Plastic-based products have resin identification codes that indicate the type of plastic, usually labeled as a number inside chasing arrows (8). Each plastic type is processed separately and has a different market value.

Clear #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE), #2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and #5 polypropylene (PP) are the only resin codes that currently have a value in the recycling market.  

 #3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC), #4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE), #6 polystyrene (PS), and #7 (other) plastics generally go straight to the landfill.

It is important to note that most plastic foodware is never recycled, as it is easier and cheaper for producers to create new plastic materials from fossil fuels (1). 

 

Why don't bioplastics comply with this ordinance? 

Bioplastics are plastics made from biomass, meaning their building blocks come from edible plant sugars and vegetable oils instead of petroleum (10). While bioplastics begin as plant matter, once processed, they lose the properties of organic materials and will not readily decompose. Furthermore, finished products usually contain synthetic additives (11). Even if a bioplastic product is BPI- and/or CMA-certified, the City's waste hauler does not have an industrial facility capable of composting these items, which requires high-temperature processing. It also lacks the capacity to recycle these plastics. Therefore, bioplastic products are neither compostable nor recyclable in the City of Beverly Hills. 

 

Are plastic bottles allowed? 

Under the ordinance, the term "single-use article" does NOT include beverage containers subject to the California Redemption Value (CRV), meaning material restrictions do not apply to these containers (12). 

 

How will this ordinance impact my business financially? 

Available evidence indicates that businesses generally will not experience undue financial disruption due to the ordinance. Over 100 jurisdictions throughout the state have already implemented similar policies, with no reports of a food vendor needing to halt operations as a result (6).   

Reusable alternatives present increased upfront costs but become advantageous over time due to decreases in recurring acquisition, municipal waste production, and litter prevention and cleanup efforts. Similarly, compostable alternatives will not significantly change the business model for food vendors and typically present a nominal per-unit increase in cost (usually a few cents), which can be passed onto the consumer if needed (6, 13). Providing disposable articles only upon request should further mitigate financial impacts.  

Additionally, due to a growing public interest in large-scale sustainable practices, your business may attract more attention from consumers. To gain further recognition, cut operational costs, and further cement your business as a leader in sustainability, consider joining the Green Business Network. 

If your business requires additional assistance, please view our waiver application process and Early Adopter Program.

 

What are the penalties for non-compliance? 

The City of Beverly Hills will be working collaboratively with businesses to comply with this ordinance by providing resources and tips for compliance. Businesses that continue to violate the ordinance will be subject to the following Administrative Citation outlined in the Beverly Hills Municipal Code (BHMC): 

  • Notice of Violation (NOV) for initial violation - the NOV intends to educate stakeholders. 
  • Additional violations, subject to Administrative Citation outlined in BHMC 
    • $100 for the first violation after the written warning notice is given 
    • $200 for the second violation after the written warning notice is given 
    • Fine not exceeding $500 for third and subsequent violations after a written warning notice has been given

 

For additional questions, please contact AskPW@beverlyhills.org

 


 

References 

  1. US EPA. (2023, April 21). Plastics: Material-Specific Data. EPA.gov. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-material-specific-data
  2. California Ocean Protection Council. (2018). Plastic pollution. State of California. https://opc.ca.gov/marine-pollution/plastics/ 
  3. Los Angeles County Public Works. (2022, April). Reduction of Waste from Single-Use Articles and Expanded Polystyrene Products Ordinance. Los Angeles County. https://pw.lacounty.gov/epd/eps/index.cfm 
  4. Beverly Hills Public Works Department. (2021, November). Disposable Foodware Accessories. City of Beverly Hills. https://www.beverlyhills.org/departments/publicworks/recyclingandconservation/disposablefoodwareaccessories/
  5. CalRecycle. (n.d.). Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act SB 54. State of California. https://calrecycle.ca.gov/packaging/packaging-epr/
  6. DeShazo, J. R., Coffee, D., Faigen, M., Milani, J. L., & Richardson, C. (n.d.). Plastic Waste in Los Angeles County: Impacts, Recyclability, and the Potential for Alternatives in the Food Service Sector. In UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. https://innovation.luskin.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Plastic_Waste_in_LA_County.pdf
  7. Good Start Packaging. (n.d.). Guide to Fiber Packaging. https://www.goodstartpackaging.com/guide-to-fiber-packaging/
  8. CalRecycle. (n.d.). Plastic resins. State of California. https://calrecycle.ca.gov/plastics/resins/ 
  9. Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office. (2022, March 14). Putting a fork in it. Los Angeles County. https://ceo.lacounty.gov/2022/03/11/sustainability/putting-a-fork-in-it/
  10. Rosenboom, J., Langer, R., & Traverso, G. (2022). Bioplastics for a circular economy. Nature Reviews Materials, 7(2), 117-137. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41578-021-00407-8
  11. Robbins, J. (2020, August 31). Why Bioplastics Will Not Solve the World's Plastics Problem. Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/why-bioplastics-will-not-solve-the-worlds-plastics-problem 
  12. CalRecycle. (2024). Beverage Container Recycling. State of California. https://calrecycle.ca.gov/bevcontainer/
  13. Sierra Club Angeles Chapter. (2016). Price Comparisons: Traditional v. More Eco-Friendly Products. https://angeles.sierraclub.org/sites/angeles.sierraclub.org/files/docs/OCCC/Zero_Waste/2018-05%20Zero-Waste%20tableware%20price%20comparisons%203p.pdf
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