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Posted on: February 6, 2024

New Sustainability Bylaw

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new sustainability bylaw

Easy ways to comply

The bylaw prohibits food establishments from using and distributing disposable food service containers, cutlery or other single-use disposable products made from rigid or foam polystyrene.

Polystyrene Bylaw

In November 2022, Reading Town Meeting passed, by a majority of 126 to 8, a new bylaw that prohibits the use or distribution of disposable polystyrene food service items and containers. Enforcement of the bylaw will start on February 22, 2024. The Town of Reading will work with affected establishments for a smooth transition through the dissemination of educational materials which highlight best practices and suggestions for compliance under this new bylaw. The new bylaw will be enforced by the Reading Public Health Department.

 What does this mean for Reading citizens?

The ban on disposable polystyrene food service items affects a variety of different businesses and organizations in town that provide food. The bylaw applies to disposable food service items for dining, takeout, or delivery at: 

  • Restaurants, mobile food vendors, and caterers
  • Public and private schools
  • Farmers markets
  • Civic or religious centers or facilities
  • Any building owned by the Town of Reading
  • Any establishment with a permit to operate under the State Food Code

 The bylaw does not apply to private use of disposable polystyrene food service items.  There is no restriction on the sale of these items to individuals.

The ban on disposable polystyrene food service items and containers does not apply to the sale, use, or distribution of polystyrene items unrelated to food service like Styrofoam packaging peanuts or freezer chests.

 Please see the full the bylaw here in section 8.14:

 The case for this bylaw and descriptions of alternatives are available here:


  • Polystyrene products are labeled as #6 or PS 6 and would be prohibited from single use and distribution.

  • This includes single-use disposable items such as containers, cups/lids, utensils, straws, etc.

  • Food Establishments cannot dispense food/beverages in disposable containers made from foam or rigid polystyrene.

  • Styrofoam and polystyrene cups/lids would also be restricted.


  • Look for alternative plastics, paper, foil, plant-based, and/or compostable containers to use.

  • Polypropylene (#5) and other compostable alternatives are available for these items.

  • If your food establishment currently uses any foam or rigid polystyrene, find an alternative option for that container. Consider biodegradable, compostable, reusable, or recyclable materials.

  • You may also find that consumers will look to forego some of these items or bring their own.

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