New policy applies to Major Events with 5,000 people or more in attendance


February 16, 2012, San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Port Commission this week approved a new policy for Zero Waste Events and Activities on port property for events with a total expected attendance of 5,000 or more people restricting the sale, use and distribution of certain plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic food ware and the release of balloons.

The Port of San Francisco has worked closely with the City’s Department of the Environment to address issues associated with waste generated at large events along the waterfront.

"This policy ensures that events at the Port of San Francisco will be even more sustainable and in keeping with the great beauty of this waterfront and the San Francisco Bay,” said San Francisco Port Commission President Doreen Woo Ho. “The support and expertise of San Francisco Environment was essential in developing this landmark policy."

The Port is host to numerous events on Port property each year including fundraising walks and runs, "tailgate parties" at athletic events, 4th of July Celebration, Oktoberfest, Fleet Week, New Year’s Eve Celebration and the proposed 34th America's Cup events (subject to pending environmental review).

Large outdoor events of this size typically generate a variety of plastic wastes from the sale of water in single-use bottles, the use of non-compostable plastic food ware, and the distribution of plastic bags to customers for food, merchandise and souvenirs. Along the Port’s facilities, the inherent challenges of waste management at a large event are compounded by a windy environment and proximity to the San Francisco Bay.

"We were pleased to collaborate with the Port on their new zero waste event policy," said Melanie Nutter, Director of San Francisco's Department of Environment. "This policy encapsulates many of the sustainability goals and policies that the City already has in place and adds new components to make it comprehensive. All events on Port property will play a role in helping to safeguard our Bay and our environment from plastic debris and other waste."


  • The sale, use and distribution of single-use plastic water bottles are prohibited.
  • The sale, use and distribution of single-use disposable plastic bags are prohibited.
  • The sale, use and distribution of single-use non-compostable plastic food ware are prohibited.
  • All compostable plastic food service ware must meet ASTM D-6400 (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for compostable plastics and have BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) certification (
  • The intentional release of balloons on Port property in connection with an Event subject to this Policy is prohibited.
  • The Policy for Zero Waste Events and Activities also serves as non-mandatory goals for events and activities with expected attendance of fewer than 5,000 people.
  • The Port Commission may grant a waiver of any of the provisions of this Policy, in its sole discretion.

"Pervasive plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles and food ware, pollute San Francisco Bay, threatening wildlife, spoiling water quality and degrading our recreational areas," said Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis. "We are pleased with the Port Commission's leadership in reducing this harmful pollution."

"We share a commitment to sustainability with the City and the Port, and are focused delivering the 34th America's Cup as a model sporting event, in one of the most sustainable cities in North America,” said Jill Savery, Head of Sustainability, America’s Cup Event Authority. “We’re very proud to have introduced the AC34 Sustainability Plan, setting forth a brand-new model for future events in San Francisco that includes very tangible actions such as prohibiting single-use plastic bags and plastic water bottles at our event sites along the waterfront and throughout the City."

In September 2002, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 679-02 setting a goal of 75% diversion from landfill by 2010 and promoting the highest and best use of recovered materials and authorizing the Commission on the Environment to adopt a zero waste goal, which it set as 2020.

SF Environment creates visionary policies and innovative programs that promote social equity, protect human health, and lead the way toward a sustainable future. We put our mission into action by mobilizing communities and providing the resources needed to safeguard our homes, our city, and ultimately our planet.

The Port of San Francisco, an enterprise agency of the City and County of San Francisco, oversees a broad range of commercial, maritime and public access facilities along the City's waterfront that are held in public trust for the people of California.