Green To Go

We explain container requirements for food and drinks prepared for immediate consumption and to go.

Overview

The Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Ordinance requires food and beverages prepared for immediate consumption or taken to-go must be put in containers that are one of the following:

  • Reusable
  • Recyclable
  • Compostable

Recyclable materials must be recycled. Compostable plastics must be composted. 

Green To Go flyers

Informational flyers describe the requirements of the Green To Go ordinance.

Packaging Definition

Cans, bottles, or containers used to package food or beverages for immediate consumption including:

  • Glasses
  • Cups
  • Plates
  • Serving trays
  • To-go containers

Examples of packaging

 The Green To Go ordinance does not allow polystyrene products to be used: 

  • Rigid polystyrene - plastic marked a number 6 inside three chasing arrows

Confusing packaging

Beware of packaging that does not meet Green To Go requirements. 

Often the products are beige and resemble compostable to-go containers. Some products have a symbol on them of a number six inside three chasing arrows. This symbol means the product is polystyrene, which is not allowed under Green To Go rules. 

Some packaging has descriptions that make it seem like the packing meets Green To Go rules. Packaging with these terms may not meet Green to Go rules:

  • Green alternative
  • Degradable
  • Biodegradable
  • Sustainable

Green To Go requires packaging and containers to be reusable, recyclable or compostable. Preferred plastics are numbers 1, 2, and 5. Compostable items must be BPI certified or meet ASTM standards D6400 or D6868.

If you have questions about whether or not a container meets Green To Go rules, contact your health inspector.  

Exemptions

Exempt from the ordinance:

  • Knives, forks and spoons (they are not packaging items)
  • Straws (they are not a packaging item)
  • Foods prepackaged by the manufacturer, producer or distributor
  • Plastic films less than 10 mils thick
  • Catering companies licensed by the City of Minneapolis, another city or the state.
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes

Events and farmers markets

Event food sponsors and market managers are responsible for the collection and handling of to-go food and drink containers at their event or market. 

Event food sponsors and market managers must:

  • Provide recycling collection bins for recyclable food and drink containers
  • Provide organics collection bins if any vendor use compostable plastic food containers
  • Have systems in place to send materials collected for recycling or composting

Contact Minneapolis 311 if you have questions. Ask for an Environmental Health supervisor. 

Complaints

Contact 311 to make a complaint about a business using a product that is not allowed under the Green To Go ordinance. 

Green To Go decal

The Minneapolis Health Department created a decal to recognize businesses that meet Green To Go rules.

The removable decal tells patrons “We use environmentally friendly food containers." The decal also displays:

  • City of Minneapolis logo
  • Green To Go symbol and website

Hennepin County assistance

Hennepin County offers free assistance and  Business recycling grants

For more information visit www.hennepin.us/businessrecycling

Hennepin County composting haulers

Find a list of haulers that collect organics for composing on the Hennepin County website. Scroll down and select, "Organics composting haulers."

Organics recycling and haulers

Ordinance

Read the Green To Go ordinance

Request accessible format

If you need help with this information, please email 311, or call 311 or 612-673-3000.

Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Contact us

Environmental Health

Health Department

Phone

612-673-3000

Address

Public Service Center
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415