ENCINITAS, Calif. -- The Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to tentatively approve an expansion of the city's ban on the use and distribution of single-use plastic products to include straws and utensils, it was announced Thursday.
The ordinance would require restaurants within the city to only provide single-use plastic straws and utensils upon request and would prevent the distribution of plastic straws and utensils at any city-owned facility or city-sponsored event. On Aug. 1, 2020, the prohibition would further expand to include a full ban on the distribution of plastic straws citywide.
The ordinance is part of the city's three-phase effort to continue eliminating plastic waste and pollution. The council adopted a ban of polystyrene foam, commonly known by the commercial Dow Chemical Co. designation Styrofoam, in 2016 and has continued to expand it in the years since.
In 2020, the council is expected to consider two more phases of the expansion, which would include a ban on the sale and use of plastic beverage containers at city-owned facilities and city-sponsored events and even more restrictions on polystyrene, plastic straws and plastic utensils.
"I think we're having a moment of realization in our society where this culture of convenience that we have come to think is convenient is actually extremely inconvenient, especially for future generations," Deputy Mayor Kellie Hinze said. "So, I'm grateful that we're taking this approach which is phased and its giving our businesses a chance to react and prepare in a mindful way."
Local environmental organizations also praised the council for taking action to reduce plastic pollution, particularly in a coastal city.
"The crisis of plastic pollution is an issue that must be addressed by our policy makers," said San Diego Surfrider Foundation Executive Committee member Alexandra Ferron said. "As one of the first cities in San Diego County to pass a plastic bag and a polystyrene ban, Encinitas has an incredible record in addressing this crisis and paving the way for the rest of San Diego County to follow."
The council is expected to hold a second, ratifying vote on the ban expansion in January.