Proposed ban on Styrofoam moves forward

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SAN DIEGO — A proposal to ban products made with Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, in San Diego was approved Wednesday evening by the City Council’s Rules Committee by a 3-2 vote.

The proposal would restrict the sale and distribution of food service wares, fish and meat trays, egg cartons, coolers and beach toys made with expanded polystyrene, also called EPS. Take-out food containers made with the plastic foam would also become restricted.

The ordinance would mandate the city’s Environmental Services Department to provide a list of safe and affordable alternatives to EPS products. Staff would also develop a process to phase implementation of new rules to limit the impact on small businesses.

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres Institute,, Teamsters Local 911, California Grocers Association, and Business For Good all spoke in support of the proposal.

Chris Duggan, director of government affairs for the California Restaurant Association’s San Diego chapter, called the proposal short-sighted. He said recycled EPS has economic potential.

“San Diego has been a leader in sustainability by expanding its curbside program which has resulted in reducing waste in landfills. In fact, early results have indicated that more material such as plastics and expanded polystyrene are being recycled. Recycled expanded polystyrene has domestic markets,” Duggan said in a May interview.

Councilman Chris Ward, the proposal’s author, and Councilwomen Barbara Bry and Myrtle Cole voted in favor of the proposal. Councilmen Mark Kersey and Chris Cate voted no.

The vote sends the proposed ordinance to the full council.

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