Thursday, January 21, 2010
The wave of municipal action against Styrofoam is sweeping the county.
On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Seaside City Council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to ban take-out polystyrene containers.
Sustainable Seaside member Kay Cline collected 62 signatures in support of the ban at the city’s Jan. 18 MLK celebration.
“I was really happy with how many people were saying, ‘We need to do this,’” she says. “I just think it’s time, and I want to see our county be a part of it.”
Polystyrene, which does not biodegrade, is a major component of litter on beaches and in the sea, harming animals that mistake it for food. The problem has spurred a city-by-city effort, led by the regional Litter Abatement Task Force, to stanch the flow of take-out foam from restaurants.
The cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Santa Cruz and, most recently, Del Rey Oaks have signed on. The unincorporated county is also considering a ban, and is completing the environmental review process. A Board of Supervisors vote is expected in late February.
In Seaside, several members of the business community have expressed concerns about the added expense of biodegradable alternatives.
“We want to be sensitive to that, especially in this economy,” says Assistant City Manager Jill Anderson. The city has worked with the local chamber of commerce to encourage a voluntary switch, she says.
But supporters of the ban expect the prices of compostable take-out containers to drop as demand increases—especially with so many of Seaside’s neighbors on board. “Clearly this is the way local agencies are moving,” Anderson says, “to banning this material that is so detrimental to our society.”
The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 4. If passed, it will go into effect 180 days later, giving restaurants time to exhaust their existing polystyrene supplies.