Resources for Businesses

No Polystyrene
Last fall the Cambridge City Council adopted a Polystyrene Ordinance, which will prohibit retail establishments from dispensing prepared food in polystyrene food containers. This Ordinance goes into effect October 20, 2016.

What is the purpose of this Ordinance?
The purpose of the Ordinance is to reduce waste and protect public health. Polystyrene does not biodegrade, and is hard to recycle. Studies show that polystyrene containers may leach harmful chemicals into food and beverages.

What is polystyrene? 
Polystyrene is a type of plastic that includes expanded polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) and rigid polystyrene (all other #6 plastics). Common examples of rigid polystyrene could include cup lids, plastic condiment cups, Solo® cups, and clamshell food containers. How can I tell if the food containers we give to customers are made of polystyrene? Polystyrene products are marked with the abbreviation “PS” or a “6” inside the chasing arrows recycling symbol.

How do I know if this ordinance applies to my business? 
This ordinance applies to all businesses in Cambridge that store, prepare, package, serve, vend, or otherwise provide food for human consumption. If your business dispenses food or beverage that you serve or prepare on site, it cannot be served to customers in single‐use disposable polystyrene.

What are my alternatives?
We encourage businesses to offer reusable products wherever possible. When you must use single‐use products, consider recyclable options such as PET/ #1 plastic, HDPE/ #2 plastic, or PP/ #5 plastic. Aluminum and paper products are also permitted. See back page for more information.

How can I get more information and assistance?
  • Attend one of our informational meetings: 

o Thursday July 28 2016, 10am‐11am at Cambridge City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 2nd floor

o Tuesday August 2 2016, 10am‐11am at Cambridge City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 2nd floor - RSVP by contacting Michael Orr: morr@cambridgema.gov or 617.349.4815.

  • Visit CambridgeMA.Gov/PSOrdinance to review the ordinance, find a supplier of alternatives, read exemption options, and to learn how businesses may switch to reusables to reduce waste and save money. 
  • Consider filling out the DPW survey to understand how your business may be affected. Include your email address in the survey so we may keep you up‐to‐date with the ordinance: tinyurl.com/PSOrdinance 

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139

Phone:617.349.4800
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