SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council voted to pass a ban on polystyrene foam, which is commonly known as Styrofoam.

Tuesday’s city council vote was the second reading and final passage. The city had previously passed this ordinance, but a lawsuit stopped it from being implemented. Once signed by the mayor, the ordinance will go into effect on April 1, 2023.

“The ordinance will prohibit the sale and distribution of food service ware and food trays made in whole or in part from polystyrene foam. This includes bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids and other similar items designed for one-time use for prepared foods, including containers for dine-in, takeout food and leftovers,” a city representative said in a statement.

This also bans, polystyrene foam egg cartons, coolers, toys and “other polystyrene foam items that are difficult to recycle.”

This ordinance also requires customers to request single-use plastic items including utensils or straws, instead of just receiving them with every order. The goal is to reduce distributing the items unnecessarily.

This ordinance does provide an automatic one-year waiver for businesses making less than $500,000. The city documents show that additional waivers can be applied for the following:

  • Feasibility-based hardship (business cannot find a suitable alternative to polystyrene foam product).
  • Contractual requirements (business can apply for up to one-year waiver if they have a signed contract to purchase polystyrene foam product).
  • Financial-based hardship for small businesses after one-year automatic waiver expires (the business cannot find a reasonably-priced alternative to specific polystyrene foam product).

The city plans to “take an education-first approach to enforcement.” According to the city, if it receives a complaint for a business, “enforcement will begin with technical assistance.” If the business does not comply after that, the city said fees may be assessed.