The city of Burien is moving toward passing an ordinance in the new year requiring the use of compostable packaging by foodservice businesses. The Burien Business and Economic Development Partnership reviewed the draft ordinance on Dec. 13 and recommended the Burien City Council adopt it with some amendments.

The city of Burien’s draft ordinance would prohibit the use of non-compostable food packaging, with some exceptions, and take effect one year after adoption to allow foodservice businesses time to exhaust existing material and locate alternative products.

An important provision allows the city to grant renewable one-year waivers for a product if it can be proven there is not a suitable alternative product. The city staff has also agreed there must be at least two vendors of a product before it could be considered a suitable alternative.

The Economic Development Partnership recommended five changes to the draft:

(1) include straws;

(2) allow for product-based exemptions rather than requiring each individual business make the case for an exemption about a particular product;

(3) encourage the city to expand its receptacles for compostable materials;

(4) exempt all products under heat lamps (not just rotisserie chicken containers); and

(5) include produce bags after two years.

The ordinance will be considered by the Burien City Council in early January 2020. If you have comments or concerns, please contact Director of Local Government Affairs John Lane at

Read the draft ordinance here.