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SFO Bans the Sale of Plastic Water Bottles Throughout Airport

In order to reduce the airport’s impact on the environment, and to advance the airport’s Zero Waste Goal, San Francisco Airport (SFO) has banned the sale of plastic water bottles.

SFO is expanding upon its Sustainable Food & Beverage program, as well as the City and County of San Francisco’s Plastic, Litter, and Toxics Reduction Law, by:

  • Transitioning away from single-use plastic food service ware and food service ware accessories.
  • Limiting when food service ware accessories may be provided.
  • Requiring the use of a minimum amount of reusable cups at large events.

According to a notice on the airport’s website, this new standard requires tenants to use reusable or BPI certified-compostable food service ware and accessories, which can be recovered and composted in domestic markets. In addition to reducing the impacts on the natural environment, this transition will make food service ware safer for use and simplify and improve the passenger dining experience.

Food Service Ware and FoodService Ware Accessories Requirements: Effective March 31st, 2019

Tenants are encouraged to use reusable food service ware whenever possible.  Tenants may only use single-use food service ware and accessories that meet the following criteria:

  • Certified compostable by the Biodegradable Product Institute (BPI) or made entirely of natural fiber such as paper, wood, or bamboo
  • Labelled “compostable” with green color coding
  • Fluorinated Chemical free.

All Food Service Ware Accessories:

Food service ware accessories may only be provided upon customer request or at self-service stations. Single-use paper straws may only be provided upon request. Impacted food ware accessories include, but are not limited to:

  • chopsticks
  • condiment packets and saucers
  • cup sleeves
  • lids
  • napkins
  • utensils
  • spill sticks
  • stirrers and sticks
  • straws

Reusable Beverage Cups: Effective March 31, 2019

Tenants providing beverages at Airport events with 100 or more attendees must make reusable beverage cups available to no less than 10% of attendees. Tenants may also encourage attendees to bring their own reusable beverage cup.

Bottled Water Requirements: Effective August 20, 2019

Airport tenants, vendors, and permittees may not provide or sell bottled water in containers that contain plastic or aseptic paper packaging, including in vending machines. Reusable water bottles, recyclable aluminum, glass and certified compostable water bottles can instead be provided or sold.

Bottled water is defined as drinking water in a sealed box, bag, can, bottle, or other container intended primarily for single-service use and having a capacity of one liter or less.  Drinking water includes purified water, mineral water, carbonated or sparkling water, and electrolyte-enhanced water.


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