San Francisco Sets Sweeping Polystyrene Ban

The new polystyrene ban in San Francisco will outlaw more than just these ordinary coffee cups starting in 2017.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Expanding upon an earlier law, San Francisco will retire nearly all of the plastic chemical foam in a strict polystyrene ban that starts in 2017.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. — Beginning January 1, 2017, San Francisco retailers and businesses will be prohibited from selling polystyrene foam products, or using it as packaging. The new polystyrene ban will affect a widespread number of products from shipping peanuts to swimming kick boards. It’s being called the strictest polystyrene ban in the country to date.

The city’s Board of Supervisors passed the legislation to reduce water quality and public health impacts caused by the plastic foam.

The new polystyrene ban expands on a 2006 law barring restaurants from using Styrofoam or expanded polystyrene containers.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, before the first polystyrene ban, city restaurants were using seven million pounds per year.

I’m delighted that San Francisco continues to be a leader on the environmental issues of our day as we’ve got plastic floating in our ocean the size of Texas,” said Aaron Peskin, a city supervisor who co-sponsored the new bill.

Although polystyrene foam often features the recycle symbol, most municipal recycling programs don’t accept it. The chemical plastic foam does not biodegrade and pollutes waterways and oceans. River and sea life mistake the chunks and bits for food, resulting in toxicity and death.

Styrene is also linked to human health disorders, which fuels much of the crusade around the nation to ban its use. Numerous polystyrene ordinances exist throughout the United States and are listed on the Surfrider Foundation’s website.

According to NBC Bay Area, violations of the new 2017 law will start at $100. Also, the comprehensive polystyrene ban will not outlaw meat and fish trays until July 1, 2017.

This ordinance is one of the strongest in the country protecting both the environment and public health,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, spokesperson for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

Read the original story on the San Francisco Examiner’s website.

Read about a lawsuit that overturned New York’s polystyrene ban last year.

Judge Overturns New York City Ban on Plastic Foam Containers

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.