City’s polystyrene, single-use plastic ban goes into effect

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SAN DIEGO — The first phase of the city of San Diego’s ordinance banning polystyrene foam and single-use plastics will go into effect Saturday.

Under the first phase, food vendors and restaurants will be barred from giving patrons plastic items such as utensils and straws unless they ask for them. The ban on the use and distribution of polystyrene foam, otherwise known by the commercial Dow Chemical Co. designation, Styrofoam, includes coolers, ice chests, beach toys and mooring buoys.

The ordinance is being rolled out in phases to allow local small businesses time to obtain acceptable polystyrene and single-use plastic alternatives like recyclable paper and aluminum. The next phase, which goes into effect May 24, will ban local businesses from using and distributing polystyrene egg cartons and food containers.

“The Polystyrene Foam and Single Use Plastic Ordinance will help San Diego reach its Zero Waste goals and preserve our beautiful beaches and other public spaces,” said the city’s Environmental Services Department Director, Mario Sierra. “The city is working with local businesses and organizations to minimize impacts and make the transition to safe, environmentally friendly materials.”

Businesses with an annual income of $500,000 or less will be exempt from both phases of the ordinance until Feb. 23, 2020. They can also apply for a waiver from the city due to financial hardships or contractual obligations, according to the city. Residents can find more information about the ordinance by visiting

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