Bring your own food container? San Diego is moving forward with a styrofoam ban

Styrofoam containers can become a thing of the past and may be off-limits in San Diego. Image via Pexels.

You may need to bring your own container or brown bag for your take out order from the local restaurant.

The city of San Diego is close to implementing a ban on polystyrene foam products and single-use plastics after completing an environmental impact report. Officially referred to as the Single-Use Polystyrene Foam and Plastics Ordinance, it is designed to reduce the number of plastics entering the San Diego environment and waterways.

In line with the city’s climate action plan, the sale and distribution of food service utensils and food trays made in whole or in part from polystyrene foam will be prohibited by law. This includes bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids, and other similar items designed for one-time use of prepared foods, including take-out containers, prepared foods, and leftovers. In addition to food containers, the law will include egg cartons, coolers, pool toys and other hard-to-recycle polystyrene foam items.

The law will also require customers to order single-use plastic items, such as utensils or straws, instead of picking them up with every food order, thus reducing unnecessary distribution.

The city’s efforts complement recent state legislation to promote recycling of single-use products and reduce the distribution of utensils and spice packets that are quickly disposed of and sent to landfills.

“Polystyrene foam is a common source of litter and has lasting negative effects in our communities, beaches and beyond,” said Renee Robertson, Director of Environmental Services. “It does not biodegrade, but rather decomposes and explodes in the wind and floats on the water, where it can be eaten by birds, fish and other animals.”

The city’s Department of Environmental Services will return the matter to the city council for approval this fall. If approved, San Diego will join 127 California cities that have passed a similar law to reduce pollution.

The Environmental Impact Report is available on the city’s website and for more information on the Single-use Polystyrene Foam and Plastics Act, visit the Department of Environmental Services page.

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