Los Angeles County Poised to Phase-Out Polystyrene Packaging

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a motion to update and expand a 2011 study of the effects of single-use polystyrene plastic packaging. The motion was co-authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn.

Polystyrene packaging, often known by its trade name, ‘Styrofoam,’ is a ubiquitous source of ocean pollution. Even properly disposed of polystyrene breaks down into small pieces that coagulate in a toxic soup in our ocean or are mistaken for food by wildlife.

The 2011 study commissioned by the County noted that viable and affordable packaging alternatives exist, but the County postponed a polystyrene ban in favor of statewide action. However, the state bill in motion at the time failed to become law and the momentum for a Los Angeles County ban has been stalled ever since.

The State of California aimed to push forward a statewide ban again this year with Senator Allen’s SB 705, but the bill is currently stalled and cannot be reconsidered until 2018.

While the State continues to work towards a statewide ban, Los Angeles County has an opportunity to join more than 100 jurisdictions that have already banned polystyrene and demonstrate that Californians are committed to getting plastics out of our ocean.

The new study must be completed in the next 120 days, at which time Los Angeles County will be able to consider a permanent phase-out of this pervasive material.