Sustainable Packaging for the State of California (SB 1335)

Food Service Packaging at State Facilities



The Sustainable Packaging Act Reporting System (SPARS) has been redesigned to allow for an easier application process. Applicants can now save their progress when completing a food service packaging application and review application details after submission.
Please follow the steps below under Application Process.

SB 1335 aims to ensure food service packaging fits into the state’s recycling and composting systems, encourage packaging design improvements to protect public health and wildlife, create more takeback and reuse options at state facilities, and reduce contamination in recycling and composting streams.

Regulated entities include:

  • Food service operations located in a state-owned facility, like a cafeteria in a state agency building
  • Concessionaires on state-owned property, like a food vendor at a state park or beach
  • Businesses under contract to provide food service to a state agency to dispense prepared food, such as a business providing food to a state hospital

SB 1335 requires CalRecycle to maintain a List of Approved Food Service Packaging (List), which includes products that meet specific reusable, recyclable, or compostable criteria.

Food service packaging products that must be approved include:

  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Plates
  • Containers
  • Trays

 Certain types of items that are exempt from the law:

  • Straws
  • Cup lids
  • Plastic bags
  • Utensils
  • Pre-sealed packaging containing mass-produced foods or beverages
  • Medical devices and their packaging
  • Items made of the following materials, if they are cleaned and reused by the food service facility:
    • Ceramic
    • Porcelain
    • Glass
    • Nonfoil metal


  • Must review and evaluate the List at least once every five years to determine whether food service packaging items continue to meet the criteria.
  • Will remove an item if it no longer meets the established criteria.
  • May also remove an item from the List based on its potential to contribute to litter, public health, or wildlife impacts.
Three tin trays stacked on top of each other
Espresso machine

Reusable, Recyclable, and Compostable Criteria

The criteria in the SB 1335 regulations combine real-world conditions and performance metrics to ensure products can be sustainably managed within the state’s existing infrastructure. The full requirements can be found in the regulations.


Reusable products must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Withstand 780 commercial wash cycles (or)
  • Covered by a warranty guaranteeing that the product will remain reusable for a minimum of one year

Recyclable products must meet the following criteria:

  • Are a minimum of two inches measured in at least two dimensions (e.g., length and width)
  • Does not contain additives that initiate or accelerate fragmentation
  • Are collected by 60 percent of recycling programs statewide
  • Have sufficient commercial value to be marketed for recycling
  • Are sorted and aggregated into defined streams (e.g., mixed paper, PET) by 60 percent of large volume transfer/processing facilities in the state
  • Effective January 1, 2026, are collected, and sorted and aggregated by 75 percent of recycling programs statewide.

Alternatively, a food service packaging item may meet some of the recyclable criteria through a takeback program. In this case, 60 percent of the food service packaging items must be recovered and transported to a transfer/processing or recycling facility via a takeback program to be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling.

Compostable products must meet either of the following criteria:

  • Are collected and accepted by 50 percent of organic waste recycling programs and compost facilities that accept mixed materials statewide (this threshold increases to 75 percent on January 1, 2026)
  • Are included in a takeback program that annually recovers 50 percent of food service packaging items that are distributed at state food service facilities (this threshold increases to 75 percent on January 1, 2026)

Plastic and plastic-coated food service packaging must meet several additional criteria to demonstrate these products can be composted in a safe and timely manner:

    • Meet the ASTM standards D6400-19 or D6868-19, as applicable
    • Demonstrate 90 percent biodegradation within 60 days
    • Comply with the statutory requirements to be labeled “compostable” in California

Public Health and Litter Impacts Criteria

Food service packaging items included on the List must also meet several public health criteria for regulated metals and intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Food service packaging manufacturers are required to disclose if a product contains chemicals included on the Proposition 65 list.

Sustainable Packaging Act Reporting System (SPARS)

The SPARS allows the online submission of reusable, recyclable, and compostable food service packaging applications.
Food service packaging manufacturers seeking to add food service packaging items to the List of Approved Food Service Packaging may submit applications through the SPARS. Applications must demonstrate how each food service packaging item meets the applicable regulatory requirements (California Code of Regulations sections 17989.2 through 17989.5). Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Application Process

  1. Create a WebPass account. WebPass accounts are created for individuals, not organizations, and will be tied to your specific email address.
    • If you change your email address, or if it becomes inactive, you will need to create a new WebPass account to continue accessing the SPARS.
    • Make certain all individuals obtain their own password and do not share passwords within your organization.
  1. Activate your WebPass by following the instructions provided in an email after step #1 has been completed.
  2. Sign-in to the SPARS using your WebPass.
  3. Navigate to the “Companies” tab to add the company information and create a company profile.
  4. Select your company and navigate to the tab titled “Food Service Packaging Applications.” Follow the instructions to submit an application to CalRecycle.

Application Review Process

  1. CalRecycle staff will review the application for completeness.
  2. Within 30 days of submission, the applicant will be notified of any missing information or deficiencies.
  3. Upon notification, the applicant will then have an additional 30 days to correct deficiencies.
  4. After the application is deemed complete, CalRecycle will evaluate the application to determine whether the food service packaging items meet the criteria to be added to the List.
  5. CalRecycle will add the approved item to the List and notify the applicant.

The Food Service Packaging Materials List

Applicants may check to see whether their material type is on the Food Service Packaging Materials List.

Materials Determined to Meet the Recyclable Criteria in CCR subsection 17989.4(a)(3)(A):

  • PET #1 – Non-thermoform
    • Mono-material PET resin; not manufactured using a thermoforming process
  • HDPE #2
    • Mono-material HDPE resin
  • Paperboard – Uncoated
    • Paper fiber without any coatings or plastic
  • Paperboard – Clay-coated
    • Paper fiber with clay coating (e.g., kaolin); no plastic
  • Aluminum
    • Mono-material aluminum; no mixed materials

Materials Determined to Meet the Compostable Criteria in CCR subsection 17989.5(a)(1)(A):

  • Paperboard – Uncoated
    • Paper fiber without any coatings or plastic
  • Paperboard – Clay-coated
    • Paper fiber with clay coating (e.g., kaolin); no plastic
  • Fiber – Sugarcane/Bagasse
    • Molded fiber derived from sugarcane bagasse; no plastic
  • Fiber – Bamboo
    • Molded fiber derived from bamboo; no plastic
bamboo food containers

SB 1335 Questions and Answers

The information in these Q&As is provided as a courtesy only. Refer to the statute and regulations for the full requirements of the law.

Which types of food service operations are required to comply with SB 1335?

Food service facilities, as defined, must comply with the requirements of SB 1335. A “food service facility” is an operation or business that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides prepared food and is also one of the following:

  • An operation or business located in a state-owned facility, including but not limited to: cafeterias, restaurants, catering companies, shops, markets, delis, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation commissaries, University of California and California State University food courts and dormitories, fairs, expositions, and legislative offices
  • An operation or business operating on or acting as a concessionaire on State property
  • An operation or business under contract to provide food service to a State agency

After reviewing the statute and regulations, if you are uncertain whether an operation or business meets the definition of “food service facility,” CalRecycle recommends that you consult an attorney.

What types of packaging are required to meet the requirements established by SB 1335?

SB 1335 prohibits state facilities from using any “food service packaging” that is not identified on CalRecycle’s List of Approved Food Service Packaging. Broadly speaking, food service packaging is anything used for serving or transporting prepared, ready-to-consume food or beverages. Categories of food service packaging include:

  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Trays
  • Hinged or lidded containers

Some types of packaging products are exempt from the law, including:

  • Beverage containers (e.g., bottled water and soda)
  • Single-use disposable items (e.g., straws, cup lids, plastic bags, and utensils)
  • Pre-sealed single-use disposable packaging for food that is mass produced by a third party off the premises of the food service facility (e.g., packaging for mass produced sandwiches)

In addition, an omnibus bill was passed in 2021 (AB 1570) specifying that the following are also excluded from the definition of “food service packaging”:

  • Ceramic, porcelain, glass, or non-foil metal food service packaging that is cleaned and reused by the food service facility
  • Products defined as drugs, devices, or medical food pursuant to federal law
  • Products used at health facilities, residential care facilities, and community care facilities, if necessary to protect individuals’ health or safety and not identified on the List of Approved Food Service Packaging
What is the process for removing an item from the List?

Before removing an item from the List, CalRecycle must make a preliminary determination that the item no longer meets the applicable criteria to be on the List, and then follow a step-by-step process:

  1. Notify the manufacturer of the reasons for the preliminary determination and allow at least 30 days for the manufacturer to submit comments and additional relevant information.
  2. Evaluate the comments and information received.
  3. If the item no longer meets the criteria, remove it from the List.
What is included in the public health and litter impacts criteria?

Food service packaging items included on the List must meet specified criteria to minimize public health and litter impacts.

  • A food service packaging item may not contain any combination of lead, mercury, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium in excess of 100 parts per million by weight.
  • Food service packaging items must not contain more than 100 parts per million total fluorine, which is a proxy for intentionally added PFASs.
  • Food service packaging manufacturers must also disclose if a product contains chemicals included on the Proposition 65 list.
What are PFASs and why are these substances restricted by the SB 1335 regulations?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of synthetic chemicals that can persist in the environment and are associated with harm to humans and wildlife, such as reproductive and developmental toxicity, carcinogenicity, and liver toxicity.

Food service packaging treated with PFASs can expose humans to health risks through the use of the products by consumers as well as through end-of-life management practices such as composting and recycling.

As part of the regulatory process, CalRecycle conducted an External Scientific Review (ESPR) that confirmed the potential public health harms from exposure to PFASs in food service packaging and associated end-of-life management practices.

To meet the recyclable and compostable criteria, a food service packaging item made from plastic or fiber may not contain a total fluorine concentration of more than 100 parts per million, which is a proxy for measuring PFASs. This threshold was established through CalRecycle’s ESPR.

What are regulated metals?

Regulated metals, including lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium, are specified in the Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act. These metals present serious health risks and are often found in several additives used to manufacture food service packaging, such as dyes, adhesives, and stabilizers.

Can food service facilities use existing food service packaging inventory not on the List?

In some circumstances, yes. For example, a food service facility may continue to use inventory of noncompliant food service packaging items that it acquired prior to the publication of the initial List or prior to the List subsequently being updated to remove those items.

Existing inventory requirements are specified in the SB 1335 regulations (14 CCR section 17989.7, Noncompliant Food Service Packaging)

What are the requirements for the Department of General Services (DGS)?

The law mandates DGS to comply with the following requirements:

  • Publish CalRecycle’s List of Approved Food Service Packaging on its website within 90 days of the List being published.
  • Publish the statutory requirements for food service facilities in the State Contracting Manual.
  • Ensure that any new, modified, or renewed agreements, contracts, or procurement undertaken by a food service facility as part of a contract or agreement with DGS complies with the law.
  • When reasonably feasible, provide a food service facility with which it has a contract or agreement with resources to identify food service packaging suppliers, distributors, brokers, or manufacturers that sell approved food service packaging items.
  • Take appropriate steps to fulfill the statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, revising relevant state contracting and procurement rules and procedures.
Why does the recyclable criteria require a minimum size for food service packaging items?

The recyclable criteria requires that a food service packaging item must measure a minimum of two inches in at least two dimensions. Items smaller than this are difficult to recover for recycling in material recovery facilities (MRFs). This criterion is consistent with the Association of Plastics Recyclers Design Guide.

Why does the compostable criteria require a plastic food service packaging item to biodegrade 90% within 60 days? (ASTM D6400 and D6868 standards require 90% biodegradation within 180 days)

The required 60-day timeframe in the regulations aligns with:

  • Typical processing timeframes at California composting facilities and
  • The FTC Green Guides (16 CFR Part 260) definition of “safe and timely manner,” meaning “in approximately the same time as the materials with which it is composted.”
For more information contact: Sustainable Packaging for the State of California,