Regulations on Use of Expanded Polystyrene

On January 28th, the Avon Town Council unanimously passed Final Reading of Ordinance No. 19-11, which bans expanded polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam) take-out food containers for prepared foods. The effective date of Ordinance No. 19-11 is January 1, 2021. 

Ordinance No. 19-11 is conditioned upon the repeal of a Colorado Revised Statute 25-17-104 that prohibits local government regulation of plastics.  Senate Bill 20-010 Repeal Ban On Local Government Regulation Of Plastics was introduced on January 8th. Senator Kerry Donovan and Representatives Meg Froelich and Alex Valdez sponsored Senate Bill 20-010. 

Ordinance No. 19-11 was originally proposed in 2017, then put on hold while the Town focused on implementing the plastic bag ban and the $0.10 paper bag fee. A ban on expanded polystyrene food containers was a specific recommendation in the 2016 Climate Action Plan adopted by the Town of Avon, Eagle County and other members of the Climate Action Collaborative.

A statewide ban on the use of expanded polystyrene containers for prepared foods is also under consideration by the Colorado Legislature.  House Bill 20-1162 Prohibit Food Establishments’ Use of Polystyrene was introduced on January 21, 2020.
If you have any questions, you may contact Town Manager Eric Heil.


On November 19th, the Avon Town Council passed First Reading of an ordinance that, if approved on Second Reading on January 28th, would prohibit food vendors from using disposable food service ware made out of expanded polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam) when providing prepared food to their patrons. The Public Hearing and Second Reading of this ordinance is scheduled for the January 28th Town Council meeting.  

This latest initiative stems from the Town Council’s adoption of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community, which reflects a strong commitment to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions and even speaks to the reduction of expanded polystyrene. Expanded polystyrene, also known as EPS or polystyrene foam, is a common pollutant and a threat to natural ecosystems that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are difficult to clean up and can harm marine life and other wildlife. The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to reduce the amount of polystyrene foam food service ware litter in the environment and to achieve the Town’s environmental objectives. It is important to the Town Council that you are aware of the proposal and have the opportunity to become informed of the proposed changes and participate in the discussion. The following information is intended to meet those objectives.

On January 8, 2020, Senator Kerry Donovan and Representatives Meg Froelich and Alex Valdez introduced Senate Bill 20-010, Repeal Ban on Local Government Regulation of Plastics. If passed, this Senate Bill would clarify that local governments have the legal authority to regulate plastics, including Expanded Polystyrene. Ordinance No. 19-11 expressly states that it does not take effect unless and until the Colorado Statutes are revised to clarify that local governments have the authority to regulate plastics.  

As currently proposed, the ordinance would only go into effect if Colorado Revised Statute 25-17-104 is repealed by the Colorado General Assembly during the 2020 legislative session. This state statute prohibits local governments from requiring or prohibiting “the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products” or restricting or mandating “containers, packaging, or labeling for any consumer products.” Staff was directed to notify our state legislators, the Colorado Municipal League, the Colorado Association of Ski Towns, and other partners about coordinating action to repeal the statute. The Town Council voted unanimously to prohibit the use of expanded polystyrene and other single-use plastic products on Town property effective immediately. This prohibition extends to all special events held on town property.

Proposed Ordinance

The proposed ordinance would prohibit food vendors within the Town of Avon from using EPS disposable food service ware when providing “prepared food.” The most salient points of the ordinance worth highlighting are as follows:
  • This ordinance shall take effect upon the effective date of any bill either repealing Section 25-17-104, C.R.S. or otherwise amending Section 25-17-104 C.R.S. in a manner that provides the Town with authority to restrict the use by food vendors of polystyrene foam disposable food service ware.
  • “Prepared food” means food or beverages, which are serviced, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared.
  • Food vendor is defined as “any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual, including licensed retail food establishments, that provides prepared food at a retail level.” This includes all types of food establishments, full service restaurants as well as fast food restaurants.
  • Food vendors would be prohibited from using disposable food service ware, including but not limited to plates, cups, bowls, trays and hinged or lidded containers, also known as clamshells, that are made of polystyrene foam. This does not include straws, utensils, or cup lids nor does it include disposable packaging for unprepared foods.
  • The proposed ordinance does not affect prepackaged foods, meaning any properly labeled processed food, prepackaged to prevent any direct human contact with the food product upon distribution from the manufacturer.

Alternative Containers

Alternatives to EPS disposable food service ware that are less harmful to the environment include reusable containers and compostable items. These alternatives may sometimes be purchased at competitive prices, but are typically 2-4 times more expensive per unit compared to EPS products. Click HERE to view a price comparison between various food service ware products made of polystyrene foam and ones made out of oriented polystyrene and compostable/biodegradable materials. Well-performing compostable food service ware is available from a variety of manufacturers, typically through vendors that offer a wide array of food service products. Click HERE to view a list of vendors that sell recyclable and compostable food service ware. If the proposed ordinance is enacted, the list is intended to assist Avon food vendors that are not currently in compliance with the proposed ordinance.