Last week, New York City announced that it would be following through with a plastic foam container ban following a court order. Now, San Diego’s city council has voted 6-3 to pass a similar ban. It will be the largest city in California to enact such a ban.
This ban will impact containers made from plastic foam and polystyrene, like egg cartons, takeout containers, and coolers. No effective date has been established for the ban, but violating the ban will result in a $200 for a first time offense and $500 for any additional offenses.
Restaurants that currently have contracts with plastic foam container companies can petition the Environmental Services Department for a temporary waiver so that any pre-existing agreements won’t be violated. The ban also requires that businesses only provide plastic straws and utensils if specifically requested by the customer.
The city council’s vote followed more than an hour of public commentary on the ban. Some restaurant owners argued vigorously against the ban. Others felt that the environmental benefits of the ban would outweigh financial drawbacks.
For coastal cities like New York City and San Diego, these bans could have a potentially huge positive impact on ocean pollution. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 600 kilograms of plastic foam will have been thrown away. Unfortunately, much of it won’t be recycled and, even worse, some will end up in our oceans and waterways.