The 9-2 vote in favor of banning expanded polystyrene containers makes San Jose one of the largest U.S. cities to outlaw the containers, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The ban applies to large interstate restaurant chains in January and then expands to cover smaller local restaurants and other businesses by 2015.
Seventy California cities have enacted similar bans on the containers, which environmentalists say harm wildlife because the material does not degrade as easily as other packaging materials.
"All litter is not equal," Councilwoman Rose Herrera said before the vote Tuesday. "Polystyrene is a big offender. That's why we're taking aim at it. I'm very proud of us for taking the lead."
Councilmen Pete Constant and Johnny Khamis voted against the ban, arguing it would impose an unnecessary burden on businesses, the newspaper said.