Why Styrofoam (Expanded Polystyrene) Should Be Banned Everywhere In The World

By Jeff Lewis

Jeff Lewis
May 6, 2019 · 45 min read
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Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based non-biodegradable foam, which the EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer consider styrene a “possible human carcinogen” and “that such materials can have serious impacts upon human health, wildlife, and aquatic environment, and the economy.”

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam is sensitive to sunlight in a process called photodegradation, or “breakdown by light.” Over months, continual exposure to sunlight affects the outer layer of the plastic, discoloring it and turning it into a powdery substance. Because of this action, thin styrofoam packaging can break down in a few years. Inside a landfill and shielded from light, however, no such breakdown takes place.

It remains on this earth forever as a piece of toxic trash to humans, to wildlife and marine life, food supply, and our environment while costing taxpayers millions in clean up and mitigation costs. While EPS is technically “recyclable” there is, to date, no meaningful recycling of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam due to high food contamination rates and a very weak market to clean, handle and process the material.

I’ve analyzed and categorized the following report of the environmental impacts, public health issues, economic strains and costs from current laws (State, County, and City) pertaining to the negative effects of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam. The irrefutable evidence and research has been mounting over decades from various federal agencies, city staff reports, state staff reports, environmental clubs, and nonprofits.

Table of Contents (Issues):

A. Public Health

B. Wildlife and Marine Life Health

C. Nearly Un-Recyclable

D. Polluted Environment, Beaches, Oceans, and Waterways

E. Financial Burden on Local Government and Taxpayers

F. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam Alternatives

A. Public Health

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Styrene, a component of polystyrene, is a known hazardous substance that medical evidence and the Food and Drug Administration suggests leaches from polystyrene containers into food and drink.”
  • “Styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin which potentially threatens human health.”
  • “The general public is not typically warned of any potential hazard, particularly in the immigrant and non-English-speaking community.”
  • “Due to the physical properties of polystyrene, the EPA states “that such materials can also have serious impacts on human health, wildlife, the aquatic environment and the economy.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “It is in the interest of the health, safety, and welfare of all who live, work, and do business in the City that the amount of litter on the public streets, parks, public places, and open spaces be reduced.”
  • “Evidence indicates that all blowing agents currently used or proposed in connection with the manufacture of polystyrene foam pose dangers to the environment. Beyond the generally acknowledged dangers of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to the ozone layer, which are addressed in another City of Berkeley ordinance, other blowing agents also create dangers. For example, the blowing agent pentane creates hazardous earth-level smog and has already been restricted in some regions for air quality reasons.”

Abington, Massachusetts:

  • “Styrene exposure can occur through smoking, inhalation of indoor air, and ingestion of food.”
  • “In a study concerning the migration of styrene in polystyrene cups to hot drinks, it was determined the concentration of styrene monomer found in the drinks was above the Environmental Protection Agency recommended levels, including the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) standard.”

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene food containers are not recyclable, nor are they biodegradable. Once buried in our landfills, they will persist for centuries.”
  • “Eliminated of Expanded Polystyrene food containers is in the best interest of the health and welfare of Town inhabitants.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “It is in the best interest of health, safety, and welfare of all who live, work and do business in the City that, to the extent feasible, the amount of litter on the public streets, parks, public places, and open spaces to be reduced and that litter which does reach the natural environment be biodegradable.”

Cambridge, Massachusetts (Ordinance 1374):

  • “Polystyrene is a type of plastic that includes Styrofoam and is expensive to recycle and is not biodegradable, and has been shown to leach harmful chemicals into food and beverages.”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “EPS is made using the monomer, Styrene, a lab animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and neurotoxin. Styrene can migrate from polystyrene containers into food and beverages when heated, or in contact with fatty or acidic foods.”
  • “Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue.”
  • “Styrene exposure increases the risk of leukemia and lymphoma and is a neurotoxin.”
  • “Workers in polystyrene products manufacturing are exposed to many harmful chemicals, including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone.”
  • “Occupational exposure to Styrene increases risk of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.”
  • “High rates of neurotoxicological effects have been reported in workers, including slowed reaction time, effects on balance and spatial orientation, hearing problems, concentration problems, and decreased color discrimination. Some studies also show significant decrease in sperm count and increased sperm abnormality.”

Environmental Protection Agency:

  • “Acute exposure to styrene in humans results in respiratory effects, such as mucous membrane irritation, eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects.”
  • “Chronic exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the CNS, with symptoms such as headache, fatigue, weakness, depression, CNS dysfunction (reaction time, memory, visuomotor speed and accuracy, intellectual function), and hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy, minor effects on some kidney enzyme functions and on the blood.”
  • “Animal studies have reported effects on the CNS, liver, kidney, and eye and nasal irritation from inhalation exposure to styrene.”
  • “Liver, blood, kidney, and stomach effects have been observed in animals following chronic oral exposure.”
  • “Lung tumors have been observed in the offspring of orally exposed mice.”
  • “Animal cancer studies have produced variable results and provide limited evidence for carcinogenicity.”
  • “Styrene oxide is a reactive metabolite of styrene and shows positive carcinogenic results in oral exposure bioassays. Styrene oxide has been detected in workers exposed to styrene. IARC has classified this metabolite as a Group 2A, probable human carcinogen.”
  • “Styrofoam production as the 5th largest creator of toxic waste in the United States.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

  • “Polystyrene manufacture, use, and disposal requires substantial energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gases and other adverse environmental effects.”

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

  • “Polystyrene has been shown to pose human health impacts to workers and consumers and these impacts can be mitigated by reducing its use.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “Restricting the use of polystyrene foam and solid disposable food service ware products and replacing non-biodegradable, non-compostable, non-reusable, or non-recyclable food service ware with biodegradable, compostable, reusable, or recyclable food service ware products in Millbrae will further protect the public health and safety of the residents of Millbrae, the natural environment, waterways and wildlife and would advance the City’s goal of developing a sustainable City.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “Due to the physical properties of polystyrene, the EPA states ‘that such materials can also have serious impacts on human health, wildlife, the aquatic environment, and the economy.’”

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

  • “The use of polystyrene products by food services providers and the sale of polystyrene products in the City is detrimental to public health and welfare.”

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “Styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin which potentially threatens human health.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “It is in the interest of the health, safety, and welfare of all of the citizens of the City of Rahway who live, work or do business in the City that the amount of nonrecyclable, nondegradable packaging be reduced, and that the amount of litter on the public streets, parks and open spaces be reduced.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “A deterioration in the quality of the City’s ocean waters and beaches threatens the public health, safety, and welfare and negatively affects tourism and the local economy which depends on tourist trade.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “Styrene has been linked to cancer as well as reproductive and developmental disorders by the National Research Council, and that styrene leaches from polystyrene into food and drink.”
  • “Styrene is also a chemical known by the State of California to cause cancer, and is included as a listed chemical under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “Styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin, which potentially threatens human health.”
  • “The general public, especially the non-English speaking community, is not typically warned of any potential hazard from styrene.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

  • “It is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the people that regulations prohibit the use of certain expanded polystyrene food service products and disposable food service ware to reduce the cost of solid waste disposal by the City and to protect the environment.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam take-out food packaging and replacing it with biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food service products will further protect local waterways, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, City residents and visitors, and will support the City’s goal of reducing waste and litter for a cleaner environment for generations to come.”

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

  • “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 13th Report on Carcinogens concludes that styrene “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

  • “Polystyrene (resin code #6, commonly known as Styrofoam), often are used in the manufacturer of food service ware, is made from styrene, a known neurotoxicant that has been found to be reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The Sierra Club:

  • “Polystyrene resin usually contains a small percentage of residual styrene. Styrene leaching increases with temperature and with certain foods (alcohol, oils or fat).”
  • “Polystyrene is made from non-renewable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). The cost of natural gas, is relatively lower cost because of hydrofracking, which causes many environmental and health problems.”

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Styrene exposure can occur through smoking, inhalation of indoor air, and ingestion of food.”
  • “The amount of styrene monomer migration from polystyrene into hot drinks was dependent on the temperature and fat content of the drinks.”
  • “exposure to styrene vapor can cause irritations of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, as well as toxic effects on the liver, and can act as a depressant on the central nervous system that also causes neurological impairment.”
  • “Potential effects of styrene exposure during its production can cause eye and mucosal irritations and gastrointestinal issues. Possible effects on the central nervous system include headache, weakness, fatigue, depression, general dysfunction hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy.”
  • “Workers with high exposure to styrene showed increased cancer of the lymph hematopoietic system and possibly related mortality, as well as increased levels of DNA adducts and genetic damage to lymphocytes.”
  • “Occupational studies concerning styrene have shown risks for workers for lymph hematopoietic cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and genetic damage in the white blood cells, or lymphocytes, as well as increased risks for pancreatic and esophageal cancers.”
  • “Styrene has caused lung tumors in mice.”
  • “Benzene, a component of polystyrene is a known carcinogen and enters the body through the respiratory system and skin contact.”

B. Wildlife and Marine Life Health

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

  • “It enters the marine and natural environment and is damaging to the environment and marine wildlife.”

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Polystyrene foam is notorious as a pollutant that breaks down into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife thus harming or killing them.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene waste poses a risk to the fragile ecological balance, since marine and land wildlife often perish as a result of ingesting Expanded Polystyrene products.This risk can occur over and over again since Expanded Polystyrene remains in the ecosystem for a very long time.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Polystyrene is a common environmental pollutant that fragments into smaller pieces that harm or kill marine life and wildlife when they ingest them.”

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confused expanded polystyrene with pieces of food, and when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “It enters the marine and natural environment and is ingested by aquatic wildlife, frequently causing death. There is resultant damage to the ecological balance.”

Brisbane, California (Ordinance 590):

  • “Polystyrene containers can adversely affect marine life if they find their way into waterways and water bodies. In comparison, reusable, recyclable, and/or compostable food service ware reduces litter and conserves natural resources.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a common pollutant that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife, thus harming or killing them.”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “Plastics, including EPS, photodegrade. That is, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces and marine animals easily mistake polystyrene for food.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “EPS debris poses a risk to the fragile ecological balance because wildlife often confuse EPS debris for a source of food, and the ingestion of EPS can result in reduced appetite and nutrient absorption and death by starvation.”

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a light weight material that can be blown by the wind out of garbage cans and landfills into storm drains and waterways, creating litter, polluting the water, and potentially causing harm to wildlife who mistakenly eat the material.”

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

  • “The availability of this material as litter has been known to cause birds fish and marine animals to starve as a result of eating the foam which does not break down in their digestive tracts.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

  • “Polystyrene is a common environmental pollutant that fragments into smaller pieces that harm or kill marine life and wildlife when they ingest them.”

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “Marine animals and birds ofter confused Expanded Polystyrene with pieces of food and, when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.”

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confuse Expanded Polystyrene foam material for a source of food and ingestion of Expanded Polystyrene often results in reduced appetite and nutrient absorption and possible death by starvation of birds and marine animals.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “Animals and birds often confuse polystyrene foam for a source of food and its ingestion can result in reduced appeared and nutrient absorption and possible death by starvation.”

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

  • “Polystyrene breaks down in the marine environment into smaller pieces, which negatively impacts water quality and harms marine wildlife that often mistake pieces of polystyrene for food.”

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene is a common pollutant, which fragments into smaller non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife, thus harming or killing them.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a common pollutant that fragments into smaller, non- biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife thus harming or killing them.”

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

  • “Plastic debris and, in particular, expanded polystyrene foam (“EPS”) is a distinctive litter concern because it is lightweight, floats, breaks down into small pieces, and readily travels from land to inland waterways and out to the ocean where it can be mistaken for food by birds and other marine wildlife.”

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confuse expanded polystyrene with pieces of food, and when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confuse EPS for a source of food and the ingestion of EPS often results in reduced appetite and nutrient absorption and possible death by starvation of birds and marine animals.”

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “Polystyrene foam is notorious as a pollutant that breaks down into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife thus harming or killing them.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “Marine animals and birds may confuse EPS for a source of food and the ingestion of EPS can result in reduced appetite and nutrient absorption and possible death by starvation of birds and marine animals.”

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “Polystyrene foam fragments into smaller pieces that are ingested by aquatic life and other wildlife.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “The County of Santa Cruz is situated at the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Marine animals and birds often confuse polystyrene foam pieces as a food source, which when ingested, can impact the digestive track which often leads to death.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a notorious pollutant that breaks down into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are often mistaken for fish eggs by seabirds and other marine life.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confuse EPS for a source of food and ingestion of EPS often results in reduced appetite and nutrient absorption and possible death by starvation of birds and marine animals.”

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene is a common pollutant, which fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife, thus harming or killing them.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Marine animals and birds often confuse polystyrene foam with pieces of food, and when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.”

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

  • “The plastic breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces that can enter the food chain by animals believing the pieces are food.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a common pollutant that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife thus harming or killing them.”

The Sierra Club:

  • “The foam form in particular is often mistaken as food by both domesticated and wild animals. Birds may also use foam for nesting material. Untold numbers of animals die per year by ingesting polystyrene and other plastic items.”
  • “Although they do fragment through mechanical action and photodegradation in the presence of light, these processes are slow taking an estimated 200+ years to complete. When a polystyrene item kills an animal, the item may go on to kill again.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

  • “Styrene can leach from polystyrene containers into food an beverages. It has become a major component of plastic debris in the ocean and animals often mistake if for food. It is also hazardous to marine life, transferring toxic chemicals to the food chain.”

C. Nearly Un-Recyclable

Abington, Massachusetts:

  • “Polystyrene is not recycled because it is not economic to wash, degrease, transport, and store in order to recycle.”

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “There continues to be no meaningful recycling of polystyrene foam food service ware and biodegradable or compostable food service ware is an affordable, safe, more ecologically sound alternative.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “There is currently no meaningful recycling of food service Expanded Polystyrene products, due in part to contamination from food residue.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Polystyrene is not biodegradable or compostable, and is generally not recyclable.”

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Items made from Expanded Polystyrene are not biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable locally.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Solid waste that is non-degradable or non-recyclable poses an acute problem for any environmentally and financially responsible program of solid waste management. Such waste covers the City’s streets, parks, public places, and open spaces.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

  • “There is no economically feasible means of recycling polystyrene foam locally.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Non-biodegradable and non-recyclable materials pose a challenge to any environmentally and financially responsible solid waste management program. Discarded food packaging constitutes a significant and growing portion of the City’s waste stream.”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “EPS food packaging is typically not ‘clean’ enough to be recycled.”
  • “EPS has a very low recycling rate. According to a 2004 study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, of the 377,580 tons of polystyrene produced in the state, only 0.8% is recycled. Of that, only 0.2% (310 tons) of polystyrene food service packaging is recycled.”

Culver City, California (Ordinance 2017–008):

  • “The plastic recycling symbol for polystyrene is #6 and is not recyclable in Culver City.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “There is no meaningful way to recycle EPS products used for food service ware.”

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

  • “Polystyrene foam food serving ware is not locally recyclable but has comparable and easily accessible recyclable and composting alternatives.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

  • “EPS food ware is commonly used by food providers in the City of El Cerrito, and has limited recycling potential.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

  • “Polystyrene is not biodegradable or compostable, and is generally not recyclable.”

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “Items made from Expanded Polystyrene are not biodegradable, compostable, or recycle locally.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “There is no meaningful recycling of polystyrene foam products used for food service ware.”

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Polystyrene is not biodegradable or compostable, and cannot be practically recycled.”
  • “Some of the waste generated in Lenox ends up in landfills in other communities, with the potential for Polystyrene to litter the surrounding areas.

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

  • “Education about the reduction of food-spoils polystyrene food service ware, which can be difficult to clean and recycle, may advance waste stream reduction and recycling efforts and reduce the presences of this non-biodegradable material in landfills.”

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene, a petroleum by-product commonly known as Styrofoam is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds of thousands of years to degrade in the environment.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “There continues to be no substantial recycling of Polystyrene food service ware.”

Monterey, California (Ordinance 3426):

  • “Polystyrene foam means and includes expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is not collected for recycling in the Central Coast region because it is not economically viable.”
  • “Food service-ware made from polystyrene foam is not biodegradable, returnable, or practically recyclable.”
  • “It is not economically feasible at this time to recycle polystyrene foam in or near the City of Monterey.”

Montgomery County, Maryland (Local Law 41–14):

  • “Expanded polystyrene (PS) #6 products are not recyclable in Montgomery County, Maryland.”

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

  • “Expanded polystyrene is not recycled at the Cold Canyon Landfill and there are no current plans to recycle it, and regulating the use of expanded polystyrene products will, therefore, maximize the operating life of the landfills.”

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “There continues to be no meaningful recycling of polystyrene foam food service ware and biodegradable or compostable food service ware is an affordable, safe, more ecologically sound alternative.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “The use of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride for food packaging is problematical because neither of these plastics are readily recyclable; that their abundant commercial use in lieu of other plastics such as polyethylene or polypropylene unnecessarily complicates the chemical composition of the municipal waste and subtracts from the possible emergence of viable plastic recycling programs.”

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

  • “It is not economically feasible at this time to recycle polystyrene foam in or near the City of Salinas.”
  • “Polystyrene foam means and includes expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is not collected for recycling in the Central Coast region because it is not economically viable.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “There is no meaningful recycling of EPS food service products used for food service ware.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “An estimated 1% of all polystyrene foam is recycled in California because of food contamination and the material’s bulky, easily airborne characteristics, given it is 95% air.”
  • “Recycled polystyrene has very little market value and can only be used to make a small range of products, most of which cannot be recycled themselves.”
  • “Polystyrene foam packaging and food service ware cannot be recycled through San Francisco’s recycling (blue bin) collection program and is otherwise difficult or impossible to recycle, and is not compostable. Compostable or recyclable disposable packaging and food service ware are an affordable, safe, more ecologically sound alternative.”

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

  • “Polystyrene, often referred to by the trademark Styrofoam, has also become a problematic environmental pollutant given its non-biodegradable, and nearly non-reusable nature.”

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “There continues to be no substantial local recycling of polystyrene food service ware.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “It is not economically feasible to recycle most polystyrene in Santa Cruz County. Eliminating the use of polystyrene foam and other noncompostable and nomecyclable items will maximize the operating life of our landfills and will lessen the economic and environmental costs of waste management for businesses and citizens of Santa Cruz County.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “Recycling of EPS products is not currently economically viable.”

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene, a petroleum by-product commonly known as Styrofoam, is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “It is not economically feasible at this time, to recycle polystyrene foam in Santa Cruz County.”

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

  • “There are few facilities in the Sate of California that recycle polystyrene and they are able to do so only if there is a demand and the product is wiped clean of all food debris.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

  • “There is no economically feasible means of recycling Polystyrene foam locally.”

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

  • “Items comprised of polystyrene are not recyclable.”

The Sierra Club:

  • “The rigid form even when collected curbside is never recycled. But even if the recycling rate were significantly increased, the end result would still have an unacceptably large negative impact.”

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Less than 35% of fast food restaurants’ waste does not end up in landfills.”
  • “Polystyrene is not recycled because it is not economic to wash, degrease, transport, and store in order to recycle.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene containers are not part of the Town’s regular recycling program.”

D. Polluted Environment, Beaches, Oceans, and Waterways

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

  • “The City Council finds that polystyrene foam food service ware constitutes a significant adverse environmental impact.”
  • “It enters the marine and natural environment and is damaging to the environment and marine wildlife.”

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Disposable food service ware constitutes a large portion of the litter in Albany’s streets, parks and public places.”
  • “In the product manufacturing process as well as the use and disposal of the products, the energy consumption, greenhouse gas effect, and total environmental effect, polystyrene’s environmental impacts were second highest, behind aluminum, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.”
  • “Polystyrene foam is a common environmental pollutant as well as a non- biodegradable substance used as food service ware by food vendors operating in the City of Albany.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene, a petroleum based product that is frequently used for food service purposes, enters the various water bodies from both direct as well as indirect sources (such as storm conveyance systems), and contributes to the degradation of the overall quality of streams, ocean waters and adjacent beach areas.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene does not effectively biodegrade (decay into constituent substance) in the environment, but merely breaks down into smaller particles, that litter the City’s streets, parks, public places, and open spaces and eventually is carried to the area’s beaches and ocean.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene food service products, by their nature, have a useful life that can measured in minutes or hours, yet the material takes up valuable space in landfills for an indefinitely long period of time.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Polystyrene is made from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource.”
  • “Polystyrene manufacture, use, and disposal requires substantial energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gases and other adverse environmental effects.”

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene breaks into small pieces and because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene as litter is highly durable and is present in many public places, streets and roads, waterways and storm drains which may ultimately float, or be blown, into the Pacific Ocean.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “According to the California Department of Transportation, expanded polystyrene products (“EPS”) comprises approximately 15% of storm drain litter and is the second most common form of beach debris in California. Also, plastic products, including expanded polystyrene, make up 80–90% of floating marine debris.”

Belmont, California (Ordinance 1065):

  • “Polystyrene, often referred to by the trademark Styrofoam, has also become a problematic environmental pollutant given it’s nonbiodegradable, and nearly non-reusable nature.”
  • “The City Council of the City of Belmont finds that polystyrene-based, single-use food service ware constitutes a substantial portion of the litter within the City of Belmont.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Products which are degradable or recyclable offer environmentally sound alternatives or non- degradable and non-recyclable products currently used. By decaying into their constituent substances, degradable products, compared to their non-degradable equivalents, are less of a danger to the natural environment, and less of a permanent blight on the urban landscape.”
  • “Polystyrene foam is a petroleum processing by-product. Oil is a non-renewable resource, which can only be obtained by increasingly hazardous methods such as off-shore drilling, which poses significant dangers to the environment.”
  • “Takeout food packaging constitutes the single greatest source of litter in Berkeley and is a significant contributor to the total amount of waste entering the City’s waste stream.”

Brisbane, California (Ordinance 590):

  • “Polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based lightweight plastic material commonly used as food service ware by retail food service and had become a problematic environmental pollutant, given its non-biodegradable and nearly non-reusable nature.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

  • “Disposable food containers made from Polystyrene foam constitute a portion of the litter in Brunswick’s streets, parks and public places that increases town maintenance costs.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Discarded packaging from foods, beverages and other products constitutes a significant and growing portion of Calabasas’s waste stream.”
  • “Plastic pollution had proliferated such that there are six times as many bits of plastic waste in the surface layer of the Pacific Ocean as marine life.”
  • “Plastic waste originating from the United States has been found at Midway Atoll in the far reaches of the Pacific, and every cubic yard of sediment in California’s costal creeks and streams contains one-half pound of plastic waste.”

California Integrated Waste Management Board:

  • “In the product manufacturing process as well as the use and disposal of the products, the energy consumption, greenhouse gas effect, and total environmental effect, polystyrene’s environmental impacts were second highest, behind aluminum.”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “The lifetime of plastics in the marine environment is unknown. Some researchers feel that the composition of conventional petroleum-based plastics as durable polymers means they will degrade to increasingly smaller sizes but never disappear.”
  • “Roughly 80 percent of marine debris originates from land-based sources. Plastics comprise 90 percent of floating marine debris.”
  • “A study of beach debris at 43 sites along the Orange County coast found EPS was the second most abundant form of beach debris.”
  • “Styrene can be found in air, water, and soil after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of styrene-based products.”

Culver City, California (Ordinance 2017–008):

  • “Ballona Creek, a focal point of the community, flows through Culver City as an open channel which drains stormwater and urban runoff within the 130-square-mile Ballona Creek Watershed to the Pacific Ocean. Trash and other hazards, such as Styrofoam containers and cups, have entered Ballona Creek, breaking down into dangerously small particles, which pollutes the water that flows directly to the Pacific Ocean.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “Expandable Polystyrene (EPS), a petroleum based product that is frequently used for food services purposes, enters various water bodies from both direct and indirect sources (such as storm drains), and negatively impacts the overall quality of ocean waters and adjacent beach areas.”
  • “Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of EPS debris in the environment, including storm drains, ocean waters and on beaches.”
  • “EPS products contribute to urban blight as litter, because, even when they have been disposed of properly, EPS products easily break down into smaller pieces, which are so light that they float in water and get carried by the wind.”
  • “EPS food service products, by their nature, have a useful life that can be measured in minutes or hours, yet these products take several decades to hundreds of years to biodegrade.”

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a light weight material that can be blown by the wind out of garbage cans and landfills into storm drains and waterways, creating litter, polluting the water, and potentially causing harm to wildlife who mistakenly eat the material.”
  • “The use of polystyrene foam has negative environmental impacts including: litter, solid waste generation, and effects on wildlife.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

  • “Littering EPS food ware can result in blocked storm drains, fouled waterways, and increased marine debris.”

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

  • “An increasing rate of plastics entering the oceans and predicts that, without significant action to reduce that flow, by 2050 there will be by weight more plastic in the oceans of the world than fish. According to the report, most of these plastics come from packaging, including food and beverage containers, and much of these plastics are made from polystyrene foam.”

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

  • “The manufacture and use of polystyrene foam is contributing to the degradation of our environment, a consequence which was neither foreseen or predicted with the introduction of this material.”
  • “The primary negative attribute of polystyrene foam is that it is non-biodegradable and persists in the environment for decades. Thus, the polystyrene foam litter seen today will still be around several years from now, accumulating rather than biodegrading.”

Fairfax, California (Ordinance 623):

  • “Polystyrene is a prime contributing factor to the enormous debris patch in the Central Pacific Ocean commonly known as the Pacific Gyre.”

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “According to the California Department of Transportation, Expanded Polystyrene products (“EPS”) comprises approximately 15% of storm drain litter and is the second most common form of beach debris in California. Also, plastic products, including Expanded Polystyrene, make up 80–90% of floating marine debris.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene breaks into small pieces and because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene as litter is highly durable and is present in many public roads, waterways and storm drains which may ultimately float, or be blown, into the Pacific Ocean.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene foam is a common environmental pollutant as well as a non-biodegradable substance that is commonly used as food service ware by food vendors operating in the City of Laguna Beach.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene foam material easily breaks into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of Polystyrene foam product debris in the environment, including storm drains.”
  • “Polystyrene foam — both extended (EPS) and extruded (XPS) — products are not biodegradable and as a result persist in the environment for hundreds of years.”
  • “Polystyrene foam breaks down into smaller pieces that migrate onto public property and into the City’s storm drain system, even when disposed of properly.”

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Polystyrene is made from non-renewable fossil fuels, and Polystyrene manufacture, use, and disposal requires substantial energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gases and other adverse environmental effects.”

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

  • “Polystyrene, a lightweight petroleum-based plastic material, is commonly littered or blown out of trash receptacles and migrates to the storm drain system and eventually to the ocean and beaches.”
  • “Littered polystyrene, especially expanded foam, is difficult to clean up and may cumulatively result in increased litter.”
  • “Reduction of polystyrene in the environment will advance compliance with Federal, State and City clean water mandates, including compliance with the Total Maximum Daily Loads and other requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.”

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

  • “According to the California Department of Transportation, expanded polystyrene comprises approximately 15% of storm drain litter and is the second most common form of beach debris in California, and plastic products, including expanded polystyrene, make up 80 -90% of floating marine debris.”
  • “The City is situated adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and during regular beach clean-ups, expanded polystyrene products are found and discarded.”
  • “Items made from expanded polystyrene are not biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable locally and expanded polystyrene as litter is high durable.”
  • “Expanded polystyrene breaks into small, lightweight pieces that may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of property, and flow or be flown into creeks and the Pacific Ocean, contributing to water quality and habitat protection concerns.”
  • “Regulating the use of expanded polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “Expanded polystyrene is manufactured from petroleum, a non — renewable resources.”

New York City, New York:

  • “Styrofoam (polystyrene) is not biodegradable and takes an estimated 500 years to break down when discarded in landfills.”

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene, a petroleum by-product commonly known as Styrofoam is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds of thousands of years to degrade in the environment.”
  • “Disposable food service articles constitute a portion of the litter in the City of Miami Beach’s streets, parks, public places, and waterways.”

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

  • “The Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies (BASMAA) found in its May 2014 study San Francisco Bay Area Stormwater Trash Generation Rates that EPS disposable food service ware compromised 6% of the volume of trash observed in storm drains.”

Monterey, California (Ordinance 3426):

  • “Polystyrene is a plastic resin that is used to make up a wide range of consumer goods and packaging, and in its “foamed” or “expanded” state is frequently used to produce takeout containers for food. However, unlike many other types of packaging, littered polystyrene foam remains permanently in the environment where it breaks into tiny pieces that disperse widely.”
  • “The City of Monterey has seen first-hand the impact of polystyrene foam plastic lifter in our storm drains, in our fields, on our roadways and highways, in our rivers, in the ocean and on our beaches. Banning polystyrene foam take-out packaging locally will help to address marine pollution by requiring the use of environmentally preferable alternatives while helping to educate business owners and citizens on the positive impact their packaging choices can make.”
  • “Polystyrene foam breaks into smaller pieces and, because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been placed in a waste receptacle.”
  • “A prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging, which is highly durable and persists longer than any other type of refuse, litters parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown into the Monterey Bay.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not biodegradable and as a result persists in the environment for hundreds and possibly thousands of years”
  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in the water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “Numerous studies have document the prevalence of EPS debris in the environment, including storm drains and on beaches.

Ojai, California (Ordinance 837):

  • “Polystyrene-based, single use food service ware and products constitute a substation portion of litter within the City of Ojai.”

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

  • “Products made from polystyrene, commonly known by the trademarked name of Styrofoam, are a major source of trash and litter in the City, its waterways and storm drains, and the San Francisco Bay.”
  • “Trash and litter for polystyrene products affects the City’s parks, streets, creeks, and waterfront’s beauty and recreation activities, impacting the quality of life for residents.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “Evidence available to the Municipal Council indicates that discarded packaging, especially take-out food service packaging, constitutes the single greatest category of waste within the waste stream of the City of Rahway, the single greatest source of litter within the City of Rahway.”
  • “Single use nonrecyclable, nondegradable packaging and plastic containers are considered to be a fundamental cause of problems associated with municipal waste disposal and litter.”
  • “The economic and environmental problems associated with nondegradable substances mixed with degradable substances in the waste stream are so severe that a program to modify the composition of the solid waste in the waste stream thereby reducing the environmental hazards and toxicity associated with solid waste incineration, and encouraging the composting of putrescible biodegradable wastes and encouraging other forms of recycling of solid waste substances is hereby determined to be the policy of the City of Rahway.”
  • “The widespread use of plastics, especially polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, pose a threat to the environment by posing unnecessary taking of landfill space, and/or when incinerated, by the possible introduction of toxic by-products into the atmosphere.”

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

  • “A prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging, which is highly durable and which persists longer than nay other type fo refuse, litters parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, and stormdrains. This litter ultimately floats or is blown into the Salinas River and the Monterey Bay.”
  • “Laws, policies, and regulations pertaining to disposable food service wares are a vital component in the City of Salina’s efforts to reduce the amount of disposed waste.”
  • “The City of Salinas has seen first-hand the impact of polystyrene foam plastic litter in the City’s storm drains, agricultural fields, roadways and highways, and in the Salinas River.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) debris in the environment, including in storm drains and on beaches.”
  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “Disposable food service ware and packaging foam constitute a significant source of litter on San Francisco’s street, parks, and public places, and the costs of managing this litter is substantial.”
  • “The Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association and Caltrans found that between 8 to 15% of plastics in San Francisco storm drains are polystyrene foam.”
  • “The San Francisco Estuary Institute found that 8% of the micro-plastics entering San Francisco Bay from wastewater treatment facilities are polystyrene foam.”

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

  • “Polystyrene-based, single-use food service ware constitutes a substantial portion of the litter within the County of San Mateo.”

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packing littering City/County parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and wetlands.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “Products made from expanded polystyrene foam (commonly called styrofoam) are not biodegradable, returnable or recyclable.”
  • “Polystyrene foam easily breaks up into smaller pieces and because it is lightweight, is carried by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting and detracting from the appearance of an area longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam debris littering our parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into the Monterey Bay.”
  • “Discarded polystyrene constitutes a significant portion of the County of Santa Cruz waste stream.”
  • “Laws, policies and regulations pertaining to this material, which is difficult to recycle, have become a vital component in the efforts to reduce the amount disposed waste.”
  • “According to local environmental organizations, despite the passage of the County’s Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Materials Ordinance in 2008, polystyrene foam is still one of the most abundant types of litter found during beach cleanups.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “EPS is not biodegradable and as a result persists in the environment for hundreds and possibly thousands of years.”
  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that if floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene materials, especially as they related to food service articles, constitute a statistically significant portion of the litter in the City’s streets, parks, public places, and waterways.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Discarded food and beverage packaging constitutes a significant and growing portion of the City’s waste stream.”
  • “Eliminating all non-biodegradable, non-returnable, and non-recyclable food packaging material from all establishments within the City of Scotts Valley will protect the City’s environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, storm drains and waterways. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into local creeks and into the Monterey Bay. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

  • “SPU has completed the first of those studies, finding that the production, use and disposal of expanded polystyrene food service products and disposable food service ware have significant adverse impacts on the environment and that compostable or recyclable alternative products are available.”

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

  • “Plastic products photodegrade, which means they break up into smaller pieces when exposed to sunlight, and these smaller pieces persist in the marine environment for hundreds of years.”
  • “Plastics also leech chemicals wherever they end up, including solids and into the water.”
  • “Approximately 80% of all refuse that ends up in the oceans come from land.”
  • “Refuse found and collected along San Diego County coasts is primarily comprised of plastics. San Diego Coastkeeper reports that in 2014, 46% of debris collected was plastic. Many of the plastics collected were pieces less than one inch in diameter, and much of it was non-recyclable expanded polystyrene foam.”
  • “Polystyrene is particularly harmful to the environment because it is frequently used for single-use purposes. A website by Californians Against Waste estimates that 377,579 tons of expanded polystyrene are produced in California and that 154,808 tons of that type of polystyrene are made specifically for food service packaging that ends up in the landfill. Either these products are immediately disposed of after a single use, or they are dispersed into the environment either intentionally or accidentally from being blown by the wind or falling out of trash receptacles, for example.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

  • “Disposable food containers made from polystyrene foam constitute a portion of the litter in City streets, parks, and public places that is highly durable, buoyant, and non-biodegradable and, therefore, persists and detracts from the appearance of the area longer than many other types of litter.”

The Sierra Club:

  • “Polystyrene foam easily breaks down into small pieces that can escape from the garbage truck, landfill, boat, and average consumer’s hands — and are then carried into lakes and waterways, and eventually into the ocean.”
  • “When polystyrene items finally do break down, they do not dissolve into benign substances: they just fracture into smaller and smaller bits called microplastics. These small particles present the greatest long-term danger, as these particles displace food supplies in the world’s oceans. Once microplastics enter our oceans, they will stay there virtually forever, because they persist and their removal is not possible.”
  • “Polystyrene is made from non-renewable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). The cost of natural gas, is relatively lower cost because of hydrofracking, which causes many environmental and health problems.”

United Nations:

  • “From a 2006 study, it’s estimated that in this region there are 46,000 floating pieces of plastic for every square mile of ocean and the trash now circulates to a depth of 30 meters.”

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Polystyrene is a harm to the environment. It makes up a considerable amount of debris in cities, and is harmful to the marine wildlife that it often arrives in.”
  • “The environmental impacts of polystyrene rank second behind aluminum for total environmental impacts especially in energy consumption and greenhouse gas effects.”
  • “Over 80% of plastic pollution to the ocean comes from urban litter such as polystyrene.”
  • “Polystyrene is not biodegradable and does not easily deteriorate in landfills, taking up more space than paper.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

  • “Styrofoam is the brand name for polystyrene (Dow Chemical Co.), a synthetic plastic that biodegrades so slowly (hundreds of years) it is considered to be non-biodegradable.”

E. Financial Burden on Local Government and Taxpayers

Abington, Massachusetts:

  • “Programs to recycle polystyrene are expensive, costing thousands of dollars per ton and litter clean-up costs billions.”

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

  • “It clogs storm drains, arch culverts, and catch basins thereby significantly increasing time and expense to public works maintenance crews during a storm event.”

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “A number of Albany businesses engage in organics recycling and it has been demonstrated that the use of biodegradable or compostable food service ware can reduce waste disposal costs when the products are taken to composting facilities as part of an organics recycling program rather than disposed in a landfill.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “A deterioration in the quality of the City’s open spaces, parks, streets, and waterways can negatively affect tourism, property values, and the local economy which depends on tourist trade.”

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene food containers form a significant portion of the solid waste stream going into our landfills. Local landfills are funning out of room; our future solid waste may have to be transported hundreds of miles to a landfill at a considerable cost.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Disposable food service ware constitutes a portion of the litter in Andover’s streets, parks and public places, which increases Andover’s costs.”

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City’s tourist economy, its citizenry and its environment. When products are recycled, natural resources are spared, less energy is used for the production of new products, and landfill space is preserved.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products will maximize the operating life of landfills.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Recycling of products reduces costly waste of natural resources and energy used in production of new products as well as costly disposal of waste in landfills.”
  • “The City of Berkeley has the duty to responsibly dispose of its solid waste, yet existing landfill sites are rapidly approaching capacity, and additional sites are increasingly unavailable.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

  • “Disposable food containers made from Polystyrene foam constitute a portion of the litter in Brunswick’s streets, parks and public places that increases town maintenance costs.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Discarded packaging from foods, beverages and other products constitutes a significant and growing portion of Calabasas’s waste stream.”
  • “Existing landfill sites are rapidly approaching capacity, and additionally sites are increasingly unavailable.”
  • “Use and recycling of those alternative products saves the cost of disposing of waste in landfills and the energy and other resources used in production of new products.”

California Costal Commission:

  • “A 2012 study determined that 90 west coast communities spend a total of more than $520,000,000 each year to combat litter.”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “Caltrans spends approximately $60 million a year to remove litter and debris from roadsides and highways.”
  • “The County of Los Angeles (L.A.) spends $18 million annually on litter cleanup and education.”
  • “Some coastal communities spend considerable funds on beach cleaning. For example, L.A. County collects over 4,000 tons of trash annually on its beaches. In 1994, it cost the County over $4 million to clean 31 miles of beaches.”
  • “Since 2001, Southern California cities have spent in excess of $1.7 billion cleaning trash out of storm drain systems leading to the L.A. River and Ballona Creek in order to comply with stormwater regulations.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “The litter problem resulting from expandable polystyrene (EPS) products is becoming increasingly difficult to manage and has costly negative implications for tourism, wildlife, aesthetics, and most recently, public storm drain systems.”
  • “A deterioration in the quality of the City’s ocean waters and beaches threatens the public health, safety and welfare and negatively affects tourism and the local economy which depends on tourist trade.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) disposable food ware has been associated with considerable environmental impacts, including being a problematic component of litter, which is unsightly and costly to clean up.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

  • “Disposable food service ware constitutes a portion of litter in Gloucester’s streets, parks and public places, which increases City’s costs.”

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City’s tourist economy, it’s citizenry and its environment. When products are recycled, natural resources are spared, less energy is used for the production of productions, and the landfill space is preserved.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products will maximize the operating life of landfills.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “Polystyrene foam breaks down into smaller pieces that migrate onto public property and into the City’s storm drain system, even when disposed of properly; and result in increased costs to maintain public parks and streets.”

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Disposable Food Containers constitute a portion of the litter in Lenox’s streets, parks, and public places, thereby adversely affecting the attractiveness of the town and the enjoyment of residents and visitors, and requires time, effort, and expense to clean up.”
  • “Tourism is vital to Lenox’s economy and an increasing number of municipalities whose residents recreate in the Berkshires because of its natural beauty and pristine environmental image have acted to reduce the use of Polystyrene in Disposable Food Containers.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “Disposable food service ware constitutes a portion of the litter in Millbrae’s streets, parks and public places which increases City costs.”

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

  • “Polystyrene food service containers easily break into smaller pieces, creating trash and litter that is harder to collect and remove.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “A deterioration in the quality of the City’s ocean waters and beaches threatens the public health, safety, and welfare and negatively affects tourism and the local economy which depends on tourist trade.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “This litter exists at a financial cost to residents and an environmental cost to our natural resources.”

New York City, New York:

  • “New York City discards approximately 20,000 tons of Styrofoam annually, including an estimated 150 million styrofoam meal trays in the NYC school system alone. Phasing out 20,000 tons of styrofoam from the municipal waste stream would save taxpayers an estimated $1.9 million each year based on current rates.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “Due to the physical properties of polystyrene, the EPA states ‘that such materials can also have serious impacts on human health, wildlife, the aquatic environment, and the economy.’”

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “Disposable food service ware constitutes a large portion of the Utter in Oakland’s estuary, streets, parks and public places and the cost of managing this litter is high and rising.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “Solid waste management within the City of Rahway is a fundamental concern of the Municipal Council due to the limited landfill space available, rising costs of waste disposal, and impacts on the environment.”

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

  • “Solid waste that is non-degradable or non-recyclable poses and acute problem for any environmentally and financially responsible solid waste management program.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of EPS debris in the environment, including in storm drains and on beaches, causing Santa Monica’s residents to pay thousands of dollars in clean-up costs.”

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “Management of this litter places a financial burden on the City/County.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Eliminating the use of polystyrene foam and other non-compostable, non-biodegradable, and non-recyclable food packaging items will maximize the operating life of landfills and will lessen the economic and environmental costs of managing waste.”
  • “When products are recycled, natural resources are spared, less energy is used for the production of new products, and premium landfill space is preserved.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, storm drains and waterways. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into local creeks and into the Monterey Bay. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

  • “Costs associated with the use and disposal of expanded polystyrene food service products and disposable food service ware in Seattle creates burdens on the City’s solid waste disposal system.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

  • “Disposable food containers made from polystyrene foam constitute a portion of the litter in Portland’s streets, parks and public places that increases city maintenance costs.”

United Nations:

  • “A 2014 study with conservative estimates of the overall financial damage of plastics to marine ecosystems is standing at US $13 billion each year. However, it notes that marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, and that the figure of US $13 billion is likely a significant underestimate.”

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Programs to recycle polystyrene are expensive, costing thousands of dollars per ton and litter clean-up costs billions.”

F. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam Alternatives

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Effective ways to reduce the negative environmental impacts of throwaway food service ware include reusing food service ware and using compostable and biodegradable take-out materials made from renewable resources such as paper, corn starch and sugarcane.”
  • “Affordable biodegradable or compostable food service ware products are increasingly available for several food service applications such as cold cups, plates and hinge containers and these products are more ecologically sound than polystyrene foam materials and can be turned into a compost product.”
  • “The natural compost product from these biodegradable or compostable materials is used as fertilizer for farms and gardens, thereby moving towards a healthier zero waste system.”
  • “Due to these concerns nearly 100 cities have banned polystyrene foam food service ware including several California cities, and many local businesses and several national corporations have successfully replaced polystyrene foam and other non-biodegradable food service ware with affordable, safe, biodegradable products.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “Alternative products, which are biodegradable, reusable and/or recyclable are readily available at a reasonable cost.”

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

  • “Approximately 60% of Amherst food establishments have already stopped using Expanded Polystyrene food containers.”
  • “University of Massachusetts/Amherst College, and Hampshire College food services have eliminated single-use Expanded Polystyrene food containers in their dinning halls.”
  • “Appropriate alternative products are readily available from the vendors used by local food establishments; cooperative bulk buying arrangements are possible.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Affordable and effective ways to reduce the negative environmental impacts of polystyrene products through the use of reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and/or compostable materials are available for most retail applications.”
  • “Over 100 municipalities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia have banned polystyrene food service ware, including Amherst, Brookline, Great Barrington, Somerville, and South Hadley in Massachusetts, as well as: Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Miami Beach, FL; Albany, NY; New York, NY; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA.”

Belmont, California (Ordinance 1065):

  • “The City Council of the City of Belmont finds that effective ways to reduce the negative environmental impacts of disposable food service ware include reusing or recycling food service ware and using compostable materials made from renewable resources such as paper, cardboard, corn starch, potato starch, and/or sugarcane.
  • “There are similarly-priced alternatives — Many restaurants use non-foam containers and have doing so for a long time. Since the 47 California jurisdictions have already implemented bans on EPS, there are many businesses that have made the switch. They can find comparably priced and even cheaper alternatives.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Alternative products which are degradable or recyclable pose far less overall hazards than continued and expanded reliance on oil-based products.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

  • “The Town’s goal is to replace polystyrene foam food containers with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives; and such alternatives are readily available.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Replacing non-bio-degradable food packing with biodegradable packing will further protect the public health and safety of the residents, the City’s natural environment, creeks and wildlife.”
  • “Biodegradable and recyclable products offer environmentally sound alternatives to products currently used. Biodegradable products decay, causing less harm to the environment and the landscape of the City than products now in use.”
  • “Use and recycling of those alternative products saves the cost of disposing of waste in landfills and the energy and other resources used in production of new products.”
  • “Bioplastics are commercially available and scientific studies show that these materials biodegrade both in compost and in the natural environment and return their base constituents to the food chain, such materials can be composted even if contaminated with food waste, and sugar cane stock (also known as bagasse) is suitable for hot foods and beverages”

Clean Water Action California:

  • “The City of Millbrae Chamber of Commerce surveyed their members when the city was considering a ban. They decided that they would support the ban and make it a publicity opportunity- several restaurants joined the Green Business program and transitioned earlier than the ban. They were happy with the PR they received from being early adopters.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “There are alternatives to EPS products used for food service ware.”

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

  • “Polystyrene foam food serving ware is not locally recyclable but has comparable and easily accessible recyclable and composting alternatives.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

  • “Many businesses in Bay Area cities engage in organics recycling and have demonstrated that the use of compostable food ware can reduce disposal costs when the products are taken to composting facilities as part of an organics recycling program rather than disposed in a landfill.”
  • “Compostable food ware products such as cups, plates, bowls and hinged containers are available in local stores, are increasingly available in the food service market.”

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

  • “There are alternative products available that are less detrimental to the environment than polystyrene.”

Fairfax, California (Ordinance 623):

  • “There are commercially available products and packaging that can replace polystyrene without economic loss to local merchants.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

  • “Affordable and effective ways o reduce the negative environmental impacts of polystyrene products through the use of reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and/or compostable materials are available for most retail applications.”

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

  • “There are several alternatives to expanded polystyrene food service containers available from existing food packaging suppliers.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “There are alternatives to polystyrene foam single-use food service ware readily available.”

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Affordable and effective ways exist to reduce the negative impacts of Polystyrene products through the use of safer, Moree sustainable, and environmentally friendly materials.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “Affordable compostable food service ware products are increasingly becoming available for most food service applications such as cups, plates, and hinged containers and these products are more ecologically sound than polystyrene materials and can be turned into a compost product.”
  • “Due to these concerns, cities began banning polystyrene foam food service ware including several California cities such as Berkeley (1990), Oakland (2007), and San Francisco (2007) where local businesses and several national corporations have successfully replaced it and other non-biodegradable food service ware with affordable, safe, biodegradable products.”

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

  • “The Santa Clara Valley Runoff Pollution Prevention Program found in its September 2016 study Storm Drain Trash Monitoring and Characterization Project — Technical Report that ‘…there was a 74% decrease in the volume of EPS food service ware observed in the 53 sites in common between this Project and the BASMAA Trash Generation Rates Study (BASMAA 2014). This large decrease coincides with ordinances that have been adopted throughout most of the Santa Clara Valley.’”

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

  • “Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City’s tourist economy, its citizenry and its environment and when those products are recycled, natural resources are spared and less energy is used for the production of new products.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “There are several alternatives to EPS disposable food service ware available in Newport Beach from existing packaging suppliers.”

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “Affordable biodegradable or compostable food service ware products are increasingly available for several food service applications such as cold cups, plates and hinge containers and these products are more ecologically sound than polystyrene foam materials and can be turned into a compost product.”
  • “The Oakland Coliseum has successfully replaced its cups with biodegradable corn starch cups and has shown an overall cost savings due to organics recycling.”
  • “Over 155 businesses in Oakland engage in organics recycling and it has been demonstrated that the use of biodegradable or compostable food service ware can reduce waste disposal costs when the products are taken to composting facilities as part of an organics recycling program rather than disposed in a landfill.”
  • “The natural compost product from these biodegradable or compostable materials is used as fertilizer for farms and gardens, thereby moving towards a healthier zero waste system.”

Ojai, California (Ordinance 837):

  • “Effective ways to reduce the negative environmental impacts of disposable food service ware include reusing or recycling food service ware and using compostable materials made from renewable resources such as paper, cardboard, corn starch, potato starch, and sugarcane.”

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

  • “There are many widely available alternatives to polystyrene products, such as products made from paper, corn waste, and recyclable plastic.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “There are reality available plastic and/or paper product substitutes for most of the polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride retail food packaging now being used in the City of Rahway, the use of which alternatives, would be environmentally and economically advantageous to the citizens of the City of Rahway.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “There are alternative to EPS disposable food service ware available in San Clemente from existing packaging suppliers.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “The City of San Francisco has had over 3,000 businesses come into compliance with the ban and none have filed any notices of financial hardship which is an option under the city’s ordinance.”

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

  • “Effective ways to reduce the negative environmental impacts of disposable food service ware include reusing or recycling food service ware and using compostable materials made from renewable resources such as paper, cardboard, corn starch, potato starch, and/or sugarcane.”

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “Local business and several national corporations have successfully replaced polystyrene and other non-biodegradable food service ware with affordable products.”
  • “Affordable compostable food service ware products are becoming increasingly available for most food service applications such as cups, plates, and hinged containers and these products can be turned into a compost product.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “At the present time, over 50 businesses in the County of Santa Cruz engage in organics recycling, and it has been demonstrated that the use of biodegradable or compostable food service ware can reduce waste disposal costs when the products are taken to composting facilities as par of an organics recycling program rather than disposed in a landfill. Compost produced from biodegradable products can be used as a soil amendment for farms, landscaping and gardens thereby moving towards a healthier zero waste system.”
  • “Biodegradable/compostable and recyclable take-out food packaging such as cups, plates, hinge containers, cutlery and straws are made from organic materials such as paper, sugarcane stalk, com waste and potato starch. These products are available locally and are competitively priced.”
  • “Alternative products exist for almost all uses of polystyrene foam.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “There are several alternatives to EPS disposable food service containers available in Santa Monica from existing food packaging suppliers.”

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City’s economy, its citizenry and its environment.”
  • “When biodegradable products are turned into compost they can reduce water use and lessen the need for fertilizer.”
  • “biodegradable take-out packaging such as cups, plates, and clamshell containers are now made from paper, sugarcane stalk, corn bi-products, and potato starch. As these products degrade, they pose less of a danger to the environment and are not a permanent blight on the landscape. These products are available locally.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

  • “Such alternatives are readily available.”

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

  • “Non-polystyrene food-service ware and packaging is affordable and available, as is compostable food-service ware, although reuse of durable food-service ware is a preferable alternative to disposable, recycling, and composting.”

The Sierra Club:

  • “Polystyrene is cheaper than some alternatives. However, the environmental expense of polystyrene far exceeds the cost restaurants and grocery stores are currently paying to provide them. There is no need for this because there are many alternatives that are readily available.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

  • “Several communities in Massachusetts have banned disposable food service containers, including Amherst, Brookline, Great Barrington, Nantucket, Somerville, South Hadley, Williamstown, as well as major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami Beach, New York City, Portland, and Seattle. This bylaw is patterned after similar ones enacted in Massachusetts.”
  • “Appropriate alternative products are readily available from vendors and are already being used by many of our businesses.”

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Jeff Lewis

Written by

Full stack React/React Native developer, environmentalist, and beach bum.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

Jeff Lewis

Written by

Full stack React/React Native developer, environmentalist, and beach bum.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

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