On Tuesday, the City of San Diego became the latest U.S. city to ban the use of styrofoam within city limits.  The ban covers the use and distribution some very common products like egg cartons, food containers, coolers, ice chests, pool or beach toys, mooring buoys and navigation markers made fully or partially of polystyrene foam, commonly known as styrofoam.  Other major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. also now have styrofoam bans in effect.  Companies looking to make eco-friendly replacements are poised for growth.  For example, Forbes reported yesterday that packaging startup TemperPack will receive major financial backing from Steve Case‘s Revolution Growth Fund so that it can expand into these new markets.

The action was controversial, but the Council went ahead on a vote of 6-3.

  • Council Member Chris Ward told News10 San Diego, that the “negative impacts of Styrofoam are permanent and threaten the health of San Diegans, wildlife, and industries critical to our region. The time has come for us to listen to community groups, nonprofits and businesses that have been advocating for this change for years and move away from Styrofoam and plastics in San Diego.”
  • The major opponents were small restaurants.  Restaurants with a gross annual income of less than $500,000 can also apply for a two-year waiver.
  • Mikey Knab, a board member of Business for Good San Diego and director of operations of Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, supported the decision. “This ban levels the playing field for restaurants of all sizes, eliminating the opportunity for anyone to pass on the external cost of using Styrofoam that ends up in our oceans as micro-plastics to marine life and to future generations,” he said.

It goes into effect in San Diego in 30 days.  NYC’s ban began on January 1.  

Why This Matters:  Styrofoam needs to go.  The new replacements are better for the planet and completely recyclable.  For example, TemperPack’s  “ClimaCell” packaging produces 97% less carbon emissions in the manufacturing process than styrofoam and will replace tens of millions of pounds of plastic foam that would otherwise be dumped in landfills and never biodegrade.  Good for the economy and good for mother earth.  Good for these cities for taking this bold action.

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