HomeCity NewsBurbank’s Plastics Ordinance Takes Effect

Burbank’s Plastics Ordinance Takes Effect

Five years in the making, Burbank’s Waste Reduction Regulations Ordinance is now in effect.

It’s the culmination of an effort, originally kicked off by former Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, to cut down on single use-plastic. Shortly after, the City Council stalled the ordinance on the back of heightened reliance on takeout products caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, not wanting to magnify further strain on then-struggling businesses.

The ordinance was finally approved by the council in March, with most measures effective immediately, though some rules don’t kick in until 2026. The ordinance seeks to minimize the use of single-use and disposable food ware for dine-in, while prohibiting non-recyclable and non-compostable food ware items in all uses, meaning many businesses will need to start washing dishes again. Plastic water bottles will also be banned from city events.

The law prohibits the city’s purchase of plastic water bottles for events and at facility sites, limits restaurants’ use of polystyrene packaging and single-use food ware and aligns with the state’s “upon request” policy for single-use items.

Businesses must provide dine-in customers with reusable food ware, while to-go customers can request compostable or disposable single-use food ware. Businesses experiencing undue hardship may be exempt from complying with the ordinance through a case-by-case waiver application process.

THE NEW RULES

The waste reduction ordinance introduces several key measures aimed at reducing the use of non-sustainable materials and promoting environmentally friendly practices within the city:

● Prohibition of plastic water bottles: The city of Burbank will no longer purchase plastic water bottles for city events and facilities, with limited exceptions — now in effect.

• Polystyrene ban: The use or sale of expanded and rigid polystyrene packaging and food ware will be prohibited — now in effect.

• “Upon Request” policy, now in effect: In line with California’s AB 1276 policy, food service businesses are prohibited from providing single-use food ware utensils, straws or standard condiments to customers unless requested.

Further regulations will take effect on Jan. 1, 2026. Restaurants will no longer be able to use disposable food ware for on-site dining. Also starting next year, regulators will enforce a non-recyclable/non-compostable food ware ban for takeout businesses.

It’s part of an effort to stop the spread of PFAS, a harmful chemical linked to some takeout food ware. Under those regulations businesses will be required to use PFAS-free takeout cutlery and to-go containers.

The rule is expected to add strain on the city’s already encumbered composters who were previously more selective with the food waste they processed, said Amber Duran, recycling coordinator for the city, at a January City Council meeting.

“They were [previously] able to pick and choose what they thought was going to be the best for their compost operation, and now they are in a different situation where they must take items that have been banned from the landfill and then they will have to learn how to manage it, and that includes compostable service ware,” Duran said.

A GRACE PERIOD FOR BUSINESSES

In January, when the council was considering the ordinance, council members and staff emphasized the importance of informing restaurant owners on the new rules.

That job was delegated to Burbank Recycle Center staff, who will focus on education and will escalate to other enforcement options if businesses don’t comply with the new standards. But the city won’t levy consequences for rule violations right away.

“Enforcement will be phased in to allow businesses time to successfully transition to new practices and alternative products. The first form of enforcement will include a written notice of noncompliance and give businesses 60 days to correct the issues prior to issuance of any administrative citations. If administrative citations are necessary, the first offense is $100, the second $200, and the third and subsequent offenses are $500,” Burbank officials stated.

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