Second phase of city’s styrofoam ban goes into effect

SAN DIEGO -- The second phase of the city's ban on polystyrene foam and single-use plastics went effect Friday, as some local restaurants continue to seek waivers.

Beginning Friday, restaurants are barred from the sale and distribution of egg cartons, food service ware like bowls and cups and food containers made from polystyrene foam, also known by the commercial Dow Chemical Co. designation, Styrofoam.

The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 in January to ban polystyrene foam in an effort to reduce waste and environmental damage. Although some polystyrene products are recyclable, most take hundreds of years to degrade and eventually break down into small particles called microplastics, which can then be eaten by marine and terrestrial animals.

"The city's goal is to achieve zero waste by 2040," said Mario Sierra, the city's Environmental Services Department director. "This ordinance not only helps in achieving that goal, but also improves water quality, reduces pollution and keeps our environment healthy."

The ban's first phase rolled out in February, banning the distribution of plastic utensils and straws as well as polystyrene coolers, ice chests, beach toys and mooring buoys. Local restaurants with a gross annual income of less than $500,000 are eligible to file for a waiver through Feb. 23, 2020.

The waivers allow restaurants to begin distributing food service ware and containers made of recyclable materials like certain plastic and paper products. They can also assist restaurants who have a financial hardship or contractual obligations. Residents can find more information about the ordinance here.

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