San Diego City Council Votes to Ban Styrofoam and Single use Plastic City Wide

in a 6-3 Vote

January 8, 2019
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 The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday in favor of a controversial ban on the use of polystyrene foam within city limits.

A similar ban went into affect at the beaches in 2018 and this one would expand that city wide, also adding single use plastics

The ordinance, authored by City Councilman Chris Ward, bans the use and distribution within city limits of products like egg cartons, food containers, coolers, ice chests, pool or beach toys, mooring buoys and navigation markers made fully or partially of polystyrene foam, otherwise known by the commercial Dow Chemical Co. designation, Styrofoam.

"By passing this measure, the council supermajority has assured San Diego's role as a national leader in pursuit of a safe, sustainable future and has made San Diego the largest city in California to ban Styrofoam," Ward said. "The negative impacts of Styrofoam are permanent and threaten the health of San Diegans, wildlife, and industries critical to our region. The time has come for us to listen to community groups, nonprofits and businesses that have been advocating for this change for years and move away from Styrofoam and plastics in San Diego."

Most opposition came from small business, mainly restaurant owners who rely heavily on cheap materials as such

Environmental organizations (5 Gyres Institute and the Surfrider Foundation etc), argue that styrofoams enviromental impact is just not worth the convenience taking hundreds of years to degrade and eventually break down into small particles called microplastics. Marine and terrestrial fauna often mistake polystyrene for food as well.

"We've found (polystyrene) alternatives to be comparable in quality and price, and in some cases, our costs have actually gone down," said Mikey Knab, a board member of Business for Good San Diego and director of operations of Ponce's Mexican Restaurant. "This ban levels the playing field for restaurants of all sizes, eliminating the opportunity for anyone to pass on the external cost of using Styrofoam that ends up in our oceans as micro-plastics to marine life and to future generations."

The ban takes effect in 30 days. Restaurants with a gross annual income of fewer than $500,000 can also apply for a waiver of no more than two years.