San Diego Straight-Up Bans Styrofoam in City-Owned Parks, Beaches, Libraries

The war on plastic marches on.



San Diego is getting in on the plastic-banning craze sweeping the nation with a new law prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam products a.k.a Styrofoam.

On Monday, the San Diego City Council voted 5-3 to ban the distribution or use of egg cartons, food trays, or any other "food service ware" containing polystyrene foam. Any polystyrene ice chests, beach toys, or dock floats used in the city would need to be completely encased in a non-polystyrene material.

The law also cracks down on plastic utensils and straws, requiring customer to explicitly request one before a restaurant can give them out.

Opponents of the measure included local restaurants who fretted that a ban on cheap polystyrene foam packaging would increase costs, and even put their whole businesses at risk.

"We're not huge. It's a small business and we're just trying to make ends meet," said Danny Haisha, owner of a local pizzeria and opponent of the ban, at Monday's city council meeting. "I'm going to have to raise my pricing, and possibly fire more people just to cover the costs [of the Styrofoam ban]. It's difficult for a small business to truly handle."

The California Restaurant Association noted that the replacement materials made of paper or other plastics businesses would now have to use cost as much as 145 percent more than traditional polystyrene foam packaging.

The ban's proponents waved away these concerns, saying that whatever costs the restaurant industry bear would be made up for by the positive economic impact of pristine, stryrofoam-free beaches.

"The aesthetic degradation of our beaches from EPS litter can have a much greater impact on tourism, a $10 billion industry, than the overstated dangers to the restaurant industry," reads one letter of support from a coalition of environmental groups, including local chapters of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

"I feel we need to move forward with this to protect our oceans, marine life and ourselves," said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, another ban proponent. "We just have to do something."

Unlike many polystyrene or straw bans—which typically target just distribution by businesses—San Diego's ban also prohibits simple use in certain circumstances. The bill's text would prohibit anyone using polystyrene on city-owned or operated properties or vehicles.

That means anyone carrying a carrying a foam cup of coffee into one of San Diego's many parks, libraries, police stations, fire stations, airports, stadiums, transitional housing projects, cemeteries, or public beaches would be in violation of this new ban.

What exactly the penalties might be for these scofflaw Styrofoam sippers is hard to tell. The text of the ban says that a first-time offender will earn only a written warning. Repeat violators would, however, be subject to any penalties found in the city's municipal code, meaning anything from administrative citations and fines to possibly even arrest.

So in addition to the extra costs restaurants and cafes will have to cope with, the San Diego City Council is giving these business owners exceedingly little idea of what sanctions they might face if they do violate the new law.

And while the stated goals of San Diego's Styrofoam ban won't do much of anything to advance them. The world's oceans are indeed filling up with trash, but the vast majority of that trash comes from coastal countries within Africa and Asia, which lack developed waste management systems.

It's understandable that a coastal city like San Diego would also want to keep its beaches free from trash, polystyrene foam or not. Fortunately, there are already laws on the books against littering which addresses the problem in a far more direct way.

The law will go into effect in January 2019.

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  1. Back to glass at beaches!

    1. Logical, it’s made out of sand.

      1. Glass is made from silica sand, usually found inland. Tropical beach sand is largely crushed coral and sea shells. San Diego being sub-tropical is probably a mix of the two.

  2. I guess that I have to start sending styrofoam to California politicians like I do plastic straws.

    Any suggestions on kinds of styrofoam to send?

    1. Shredded pieces in pressurized packaging.

    2. Large boxes of just packing peanuts. 🙂

      1. Packing peanuts shaped like strippers

  3. It will be extra funny as all those US Navy ships depart San Diego and dump their styrofoam at sea only to have it float back to San Diego.

    The irony will be lost on San Diego Socialists unconstitutionally banning things.

    1. The US Navy hasn’t done that for at least 20 years.

      1. You dump your trash into the pier garbage bins when you’re pierside. There it goes into the same waste stream as all the other municipal trash. One of the specific things on the pre-underway checklist is to ensure all the trash is dumped so that there’s no immediate need to discharge at sea.

      2. SOP is to hold all plastics on board if the ship is expecting to enter port within 30 days. Its a freaking international law. I’ve had times when I’ve had one whole side of the ship filled with boxes holding bags of waste plastic because we can’t just toss it out. Ships nowadays are equipped with compression devices that smoosh the stuff into solid plastic disks to deal with the space needed to hold it onboard.

      3. There are minimum distances from land that specific types of waste require before they can be discharged at sea – and any waste that floats must be weighted down to prevent that. None of its floating back to shore.

      Now, I don’t speak for civilian ships (especially foreign flagged ones), but its not the US Navy contributing to beach waste.

      1. That could be correct since I have been out of the Navy for over 20 years.

        2. Its not international law because that has not changed and we did it in the 1990s. We also did not weigh the trash down. The bags would float in our ship’s wake. At some point waves would overtake the trash or the bags would fall apart.

        3. The distances from shore to dump waste were there but clearly trash floats back to shore. People pick up trash on the shore.

  4. “there are already laws on the books against littering”

    Everybody knows that if you have a law that’s not working, passing another one will solve the problem. Duh.

  5. I remember when the big push was to use plastic instead of paper, to save the trees.

    1. Electric dryers in the bathroom, save the trees.

      1. Now its replace the electric dryers – powered by coal plants and contributing to the sinking of Tuvalu – with paper because that causes more trees to be planted and therefore more CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

        Its almost like stuff has tradeoffs and there’s no one perfect solution to any ‘problem’.

  6. I wonder what the state of their landfill is like. A rapidly filling landfill is a powerful incentive for not wanting to add to it.

    And getting a new landfill can be a political minefield. I got to watch when Annapolis wanted to expand its landfill, and the political storm that it caused.

    And in the meantime, all those used containers have to GO somewhere.

    When all those snarky commenters come up with a solution of what to do with the containers, they can criticize those who get stuck with the problem.

    1. Burn them.

    2. Here’s the state of their landfill, direct from their website:

      ?San Diego, with a population of over 1.3 million, disposes over 910,000 tons of trash per year. At this rate of disposal, the only City-run landfill, the Miramar Landfill, will likely be filled to capacity and close by 2030.

      Burn it, and start looking for new landfill. Banning EPS won’t make a dent.

      1. Would make a nice spot for burning man fest

      2. But when you cap a landfill, you gain all that real estate.

  7. Do these people seriously not have anything better to do with their time than think up bullshit like this? Somebody needs to start some sort of a ballot initiative to dissolve the city council if this is the all the more important their work is. Would anybody really notice if these petty-ass bastards all disappeared?

    1. Um, yes. Don’t you see the ads during voting season for candidates who will DO SOMETHING?! Get the job done, even if there is nothing to do.

  8. We just have to do something.
    Will this never end?

    1. No, it won’t. “Doing something” is the best way for leftists to implement their totalitarian aims.

    2. Something must be done.

      Laughing at you is something.

      Therefore, we must now all laugh at you. 😛

  9. We should ban plastics in healthcare too.

    1. *excepting implants

  10. Perhaps a plastic syringe ban is in order, if you know where I’m going with this.

    1. How about a ban on plastic surgery?

      1. We already have two Stormy Daniels threads, I can go with this.

  11. I see many much unintended consequences on the horizon.

    “We’re not huge. It’s a small business and we’re just trying to make ends meet,” said Danny Haisha, owner of a local pizzeria and opponent of the ban, at Monday’s city council meeting. “I’m going to have to raise my pricing, and possibly fire more people just to cover the costs [of the Styrofoam ban]. It’s difficult for a small business to truly handle.”

    Cute. Like they care. Ever hear of the retard law of progonomics which stipulates, ‘if you can’t handle our measures for the good of the planet and children then you don’t deserve to be in business’?

    “I feel we need to move forward with this to protect our oceans, marine life and ourselves,” said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, another ban proponent. “We just have to do something.”

    That’s another way of telling people who make pizza ‘fuck you’.

    We have to do something and anything!

    Ignoramuses roam the earf now.

    It’s their world and we just live in it.

    1. Well, pizza is made by old white males, so… No, no one cares about them.

  12. San Diego City Council [banned] “food service ware” containing polystyrene foam. Any polystyrene ice chests, beach toys, or dock floats used in the city would need to be completely encased in a non-polystyrene material.

    Some plastics are more equal than others.

    1. So cover them w Al foil.

      I don’t get it: Were abandoned ice chests, beach toys, & dock floats littering the beaches?

  13. Somebody needs to do something about people who want to do something.

    1. Ban them from pristine beaches?

    2. I prefer Bob Barker’s advice, have them spayed and neutered.

      1. TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release)

    3. Something must be done (about people who want to do something).

      Laughing at them is something.

      Therefore, we must now all laugh at them.

  14. This is a silly law, but mostly inconsequential. The costs of complying with this aren’t even remotely the same as the scheduled minimum wage changes in CA.

    1. It’s odd that Reason hasn’t posted much about the upcoming minimum wage hikes across California. The short version is that a good chunk of a CA will have a $15 per hour minimum wage adjusted for inflation by 2023. You can expect a good chunk of the remaining manufacturing jobs to disappear.

      I work in engineering and a substantial amount of manufacturing jobs (food plants, for example) still exist in the LA basin. The median pay for food processing in California is under $13 per hour. With shift differentials, shift managers, incentive pay, etc, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where median pay isn’t at least $2 per hour higher than the minimum.

      That effectively means a 50% raise in wage costs for a whole lot of workers. They’ll be ecstatic…. for a few years…. until the pink slips start rolling out.

    2. Every law is enforced with a gun. None of them are inconsequential.

  15. “”I feel we need to move forward with this to protect our oceans, marine life and ourselves,” said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, another ban proponent. “We just have to do something.””

    This is a perfect example of female “thought” processes. Rhetoric over reason, lack of logical thinking, and empty slogans.

    1. Repeal 19!

      1. Unfortunately, it won’t happen without a societal reset. No one ever voluntarily gives up their vote.

        1. If you can promise Elizabeth Warren wouId never become president, I might make the trade.

  16. Will need to find a new place to jack it.

  17. San Diego doesn’t go far enough in their banning of strafoam in their parks, libraries and beaches.
    They should ban grass in their parks.
    They should ban books in their libraries.
    They should ban sand on their beaches.
    Then, and only then, will the ruling elitist turds running San Diego will have some credibility.

    1. “They should ban sand on their beaches.”

      And DiHydrogenMonOxide.

  18. These are the people who want to eliminate the Electoral College so they can force this stuff on the rest of the nation.

  19. What I don’t understand is, with all this plastic floating in clusters on the surface of the sea, why don’t plastic companies send out fishing-boats with trailing nets to go gather all that plastic for free and bring it home to be chemically processed and recycled? They do this with plastic recycled from the garbage cans on land, why can’t they do it on the sea? Is our “plastic trash crisis” the result of stupidity, laziness, or what?

    1. If it was possible to do it profitably without government subsidies, someone would already be doing it.

  20. “They do this with plastic recycled from the garbage cans on land, why can’t they do it on the sea?”

    Because it isn’t cost effective, even for the plastic from garbage cans on land.

    Even with the general government take over of recycling, there are private companies that will pay you for old metal to feed into recycling operations.

    The truth is the only materials that can be recycled economically are glass and metals.

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