Thursday, October 4, 2012
The tiny hamlet of Sand City is the very last holdout on the Monterey Bay shoreline where takeout orders are still legally packed in polystyrene foam.
Every other coastal jurisdiction from Carmel to Davenport, including unincorporated Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, has banned the beach-littering plastic commonly known as styrofoam.
And in that little foam haven of Sand City, only one restaurant – Jamba Juice in the Edgewater Shopping Center – is still clinging to its polystyrene containers. At least, that’s according to Santa Cruz conservation nonprofit Save Our Shores, whose staffers have hit up the Sand City restaurants one by one in hopes of converting them to eco-friendlier packaging.
“And every one of them have – every one except Jamba Juice,” says SOS Executive Director Laura Kasa. “The mayor did not want a ban; that’s why we chose this approach.”
Mark Keenan, who owns 10 Jamba Juice franchises in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, says local laws have forced all but two of his stores – in Sand City and Gilroy – to switch to non-polystyrene cups that don’t insulate as well as foam.
“We have gotten a lot of customer feedback that it doesn’t keep their drink as cold, and we have to be sensitive to that,” he says.
Keenan adds that the company plans to unveil a new cup early next year, but he won’t specify the material. (10/8/12 UPDATE: Jamba Juice corporate clarifies that it is transitioning from polystyrene to eco-friendlier paper cups nationwide in 2013. An interim paper cup has been introduced in more than 70 California stores.]
Polystyrene continues to be a ubiquitous ingredient in takeout orders outside the Highway 1 corridor. The rules inland are spottier: Salinas has a ban, but Gilroy doesn’t. And even in cities that do block the plastic foam, some restaurants flaunt the rule. (The Weekly has an online reporting form at www.mcweekly.com/styro.)
While Jamba Juice sticks to foam, Sand City restaurants including Papa Chano’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and Chipotle have voluntarily adopted eco-friendlier packaging materials. But without a citywide ban in place, they’re not required to keep it that way.
Kasa has personally appealed to Mayor Dave Pendergrass, petitions in hand, to plug the last hole in Monterey Bay’s polystyrene barrier, particularly since Sand City borders the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
But Pendergrass says he has no plans to put the issue on a City Council agenda. “I don’t believe in government banning anything. I just think that should be voluntary,” he says. “We’ve done our part without having to actually ban it.”