Thursday, January 24, 2008
As plastic waste builds up in landfills and in the sea, momentum builds for a regional ban on restaurant use of disposable polystyrene foam (better known as Styrofoam). Sustainable Pacific Grove member Joy Colangelo will pitch the idea to the county’s 12 mayors during the Jan. 25 Monterey County Mayors meeting at Pacific Grove’s Point Pinos Grill.
PG Mayor Dan Cort enthusiastically supports the proposed ban. He notes that both local and national restaurants, including Passionfish, McDonald’s and Taco Bell already have replaced Styrofoam with recyclable and biodegradable alternatives.
“It should be de rigueur,” he says. “I’m hoping that the mayors and local officials will embrace this.”
But Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Mayor Sue McCloud, who chairs the Monterey Regional Waste Management District’s litter abatement task force, says the agenda item is premature. The district is already drafting an ordinance to ban Styrofoam, with the hopes it will be adopted countywide, she says. But the district board, which meets monthly, has not yet reviewed the draft.
“I would strongly recommend that this wait until we have an ordinance,” McCloud says. “I just don’t think we should be taking the mayors’ time at this point.”
Along with four other green groups, the Central Coast chapters of Surfrider Foundation have been pressuring local governments to curtail use of the plastic foam. Now that the cities of Capitola and Santa Cruz have adopted bans, activists are focusing on the Peninsula, which borders the protected Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Colangelo, for one, isn’t willing to wait for a drawn-out political process. “Here’s the process I’m worried about: A piece of Styrofoam floats into the water. A bird eats it. It dies,” she says. “The birds can’t wait. They don’t know politics and they don’t know process. It’s time for a regional voice, and it would be powerful if all 12 mayors did this together.”