Mar 22 - Santa Cruz Considers All-Out Ban on Foam Polystyrene Products


This past Monday, Santa Cruz City’s Transportation and Public Works Commission voted to recommend an all-out ban of expanded polystyrene (eps) products, for consideration by City Council.

Since 2008, the City has banned restaurant distribution of eps takeout food containers. If an expansion were adopted, not even eps coolers, prepackaged cups and bowls, or toys would be allowed on store shelves for consumer purchases. Council may vote on the issue by this June.

It’s an aggressive attack against a problem product that’s difficult to properly dispose of and poses a threat to our environment and wildlife. Not to mention that there are readily available alternatives on the market that are more sustainable--from single-use plates, cups, etc. made from paper or PLA, to reusable coolers.

Although the Santa Cruz proposal would be strongest measure of its kind by far, other communities are also working to target an increasing number of eps products. For instance, the cities of San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto are currently working together on purchasing policies to prohibit eps packaging materials in the shipments they receive. And starting this year, a new law went into effect that phases-out foam packaging peanuts.

CAW Policy Associate, Sue Vang, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel of this growing movement, "It’s a sea change," but acknowledged the obstacles in an abrupt transition if there isn’t proper outreach and education to businesses. "We are also aware of how difficult it can be." Fortunately, the City plans to use the months between now and the Council meeting to reach out to the business community.

Learn more about SB 568 - the statewide proposal to ban eps takeout containers. You can also write to your Assembly Member to vote for this bill.

See the list of local polystyrene ordinances and stay tuned on our website for future updates. You can support our work on this issue by making an online donation.