Polystyrene Foam, and Other Plastic Products are Banned by Los Angeles and San Diego- The Two Cities Took the Decision on The Same Day
On Tuesday, the two most populated cities in California enacted a slew of ordinances to curb the use of single-use plastics, such as expanded polystyrene foam containers.
Both cities’ legislative initiatives were framed as synergistic with their respective zero-waste objectives and with statewide policies like SB 54, which mandates that large manufacturers take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products.
Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment reports that roughly 97% of California’s municipalities have some kind of ban on EPS foam products. An example of a jurisdiction where new regulations will take effect in May 2023 is Los Angeles County.
When asked why it stopped including EPS foam in its curbside recycling program, San Diego cited that “markets for recycling of polystyrene foam are expensive, difficult to identify, and the process is energy intensive and costly.”
The set of regulations enforced by the cities
There will be a ban on the sale of certain EPS goods by any business with more than 26 employees beginning on April 23, 2023. However, the policy does provide some exceptions for special facilities. In April 2024, the policy will be extended to all covered businesses, regardless of size.
The new law will extend coverage to department stores, hardware stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and bars. The program, which will go into effect in stages beginning in 2023, will include initiatives to increase the use of reusable bags.
A mission to promote waste diversion
The third piece of legislation mandates that beginning in 2023, city facilities and events held on city property must limit the use of single-use plastics and actively promote waste diversion. A lawsuit brought by Dart and local restaurant representatives in 2019 delayed San Diego’s prohibition on specific EPS foam products.
After completing an environmental impact report, the matter was resolved, and the San Diego City Council could move forward. The regulation further specifies that food providers may only provide plastic or bioplastic utensils or straws upon customer request.