A Clean Break: San Francisco Bans Styrofoam Products

Karim D. Ghantous, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Karim D. Ghantous, Flickr // CC BY 2.0 / Karim D. Ghantous, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In less than a year, you won’t be able to buy a single Styrofoam cup, plate, or packing peanut in the entire city of San Francisco. Mother Jones reports that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to ban the sale of all polystyrene foam (a.k.a Styrofoam) products beginning in 2017.

The San Francisco Examiner explains that the ban will be enacted in two waves: Starting January 1, 2017, polystyrene food packaging, plates, cups, egg cartons, coolers, to-go containers, pool and beach toys, packaging, dock floats, and buoys will disappear from San Francisco’s stores. Then, on July 1, 2017, polystyrene meat and fish trays will be removed, completing the total ban of styrofoam in the city.

The initiative is designed to reduce pollution and help the city reach its goal of achieving “zero waste” by 2020. Styrofoam is notoriously difficult to recycle and often ends up in landfills, where it never fully degrades, and in oceans, where it is often consumed by fish. By banning Styrofoam, San Francisco hopes to reduce its own environmental footprint and especially the amount of polystyrene that ends up at sea.

The ordinance was sponsored in part by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who in 2006 proposed banning polystyrene take-out containers from restaurants. That ordinance was implemented a year later.

He told the San Francisco Examiner, “I’m delighted that San Francisco continues to be a leader on the environmental issues of our day as we’ve got plastic floatin’ in our ocean the size of Texas.”

[h/t Mother Jones]

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