Polystyrene Bylaw

READING, MA — 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:


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