Solana Beach explores banning single-use plastics

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation expressed its approval Thursday of the Solana Beach City Council's unanimous vote to ban the use and distribution of single-use plastics within city limits.

The council tentatively approved an update to the city's municipal code Wednesday night to ban businesses from using single-use plastic items like cups, straws and utensils unless they're recyclable or compostable.

The vote builds on the council's 2015 vote to ban polystyrene foam, also known by the commercial Dow Chemical Co. designation, Styrofoam.

The ordinance mandates food vendors to only give customers single-use items such as utensils and drink stirrers if asked and expands the polystyrene ban to include the sale and use of foam products that are not encased in hard plastic like a cooler or boogie board, even if they are bought outside the city.

The ordinance also bans the sale of plastic bottles and packaged water within the city and at city-sponsored events. To compensate, customers will be allowed to use reusable cups and drink containers at any place in the city that sells food. The city may also add public drinking fountains and water bottle refilling stations in the future.

"The crisis of plastic pollution is an issue that needs to be addressed by our policy makers," said Alexandra Ferron, a volunteer policy coordinator with the Surfrider Foundation. "Solana Beach has an incredible record in addressing this crisis and paving the way for the rest of San Diego County to follow."

In drafting the ordinance, the city reached out to local restaurants as well as the California Grocers Association, the California Restaurant Association and the American Beverage Association for feedback. City officials said most feedback was positive and constructive criticism and concerns were folded into the ordinance.

The council is required to hold a second vote on the ordinance to ratify it. The law would go into effect one year after the ratification date.

A second such vote has not yet been scheduled.

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