San Diego Becomes Largest CA City to Ban Styrofoam

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San Diego has become the largest city in the state of California to ban Styrofoam products after city council voted 6-3 to pass the restrictive ordinance.

The San Diego City Council voted to approve a law that restricts the use of products made with polystyrene and plastic foam, like take-out containers, coolers and egg cartons.

The ordinance will likely go into effect in April and fines for violating the law will be $200 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

The vote followed more than an hours-worth of public comment where local restaurant owners and other opposing groups pleaded with the council to oppose the impending ban.

Restaurant owners argued the alternative, environmentally-friendly containers would cost them nearly twice as much and would force them to pass the additional cost on to their customers.

“[Lawmakers] don’t think about the small business owners, how prices are going to increase, or how we’re going to be impacted with the supplies and the money we have to spend,” said Andres Rodriguez, the owner of Antojitos Colombianos in Logan Heights.

Some restaurant owners, like Mikey Knab, the operation’s manager at Kensington’s Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, said he is for the environmental benefits of the ban.

He told NBC 7 the restaurant switched to more environmentally-friendly materials last year and has seen a decline in prices due to an increase in demand.

The Environmental Services Department is to provide a list of safe alternative containers.

Restaurants can petition the department for a hardship waiver, which will be awarded on a case-by-case basis for restaurants that would have financial difficulty making the switch to alternative products.

Any restaurants that currently have a contract with styrofoam companies can petition the Environmental Services Department for a waiver so that agreements are not broken.

The ordinance will also require businesses to only provide plastic utensils and straws upon request.

The council first voted 5-3 in October to ban Styrofoam products in the city and Tuesday’s second vote solidified the ordinance into law.