KeepHealthCare.ORG – San Diego’s proposed Styrofoam ban reinforces sustainability culture
San Diego established a national standard when we adopted our Climate Action Plan in 2015, and since then we’ve been aggressively pursuing additional reforms to ensure a clean, safe, sustainable San Diego for ourselves and future generations. To keep us on track to realize these ambitious goals, the next step is to tackle the use of Styrofoam and single-use plastics. These products clog our landfills, pollute our oceans and waterways, kill wildlife, and erode our own health. That’s why I’m proud to be working with environmental and business leaders as well as council colleagues on a measure restricting the sale and distribution of Styrofoam and limiting single-use plastic products like straws, available to restaurant customers only by request.
I have spent years working closely with San Diegans who clearly see the challenge and opportunity before us to keep our water clean, protect our coastline and ensure we leave behind an environment that allows future generations to thrive. This proposal draws from the experiences of more than 100 other California cities which have successfully implemented similar plans to address overuse of single-use plastics. The proposal we’ve introduced is a natural next step that reinforces San Diego’s culture of sustainability and reduces the amount of harmful waste entering our communities.
Related: Styrofoam ban won’t help environment but will hurt businessess
Single-use plastics, including Styrofoam, are a serious threat to our environment and San Diego’s finite resources. Styrofoam is a permanent, known animal and human carcinogen that breaks down into smaller pieces which are often mistaken by marine life as food and consistently finds their way into our oceans and our seafood.
This clear threat to environmental health extends beyond Styrofoam; plastic straws harm marine life and endanger our natural ecosystem. In the United States, it is estimated that every day some 500 million plastic drinking straws are used then promptly thrown away. When this material enters our streams, creeks and storm drains, it absorbs toxic chemicals like DDT and flame retardants and eventually makes its way into our ocean.
The ordinance will restrict the sale and distribution of Styrofoam products for the use of food service ware (plates, bowls, cups), fish and meat trays, egg cartons and coolers within the city of San Diego. Furthermore, the proposal would make single-use plastics, such as straws and utensils, only available to restaurant customers by request.
San Diego is at the forefront of a nationwide push by major cities to address climate change in a substantial way. Our adopted Climate Action Plan drastically reduces greenhouse gases, promotes public transportation, and will have us diverting 100 percent of collected trash from our landfills by 2040. We are investing in fossil fuel-free transportation infrastructure and are moving closer to reaching 100 percent renewable energy through Community Choice Energy programs. There is a significant amount of momentum in our efforts to build a sustainable San Diego; and now more than ever, we must hasten our efforts.
A Styrofoam ban makes business sense, and accelerates our progress in the direction our local businesses are already heading. San Diego restaurants are already listening to their customers and have been proactively limiting their disposable plastics, and I was proud to have these businesses represented when we announced this proposal this Spring. These businesses recognize that cost-effective alternatives to Styrofoam and plastic straws are available and are contributing to their increasing circulation throughout San Diego, and that a healthier community is good for their customers and good for their bottom line.
Already, this proposal is earning support from a coalition of environment and business organizations whose membership are active champions for our coasts, open spaces, and San Diego values. Supporters already include the Surfrider Foundation San Diego, San Diego Coastkeeper, Business For Good San Diego, SanDiego350, Climate Action Campaign, Sierra Club San Diego and 5 Gyres Institute.
These organizations have long known that this is the right course of action both environmentally and financially. Working together through multiple stakeholder meetings, thorough research and a keen determination to move San Diego forward, our coalition supports a proposal that we are confident will deliver on San Diego’s climate action goals and a greener future.
San Diegans have always understood the deep connection we have to our environment. It feeds us, fills our free time and drives our economy. We have already shown what bold action looks like to respond to the threats of climate change, and now we can continue that work. With this next step to reduce the Styrofoam and single-use plastics in our trash, in our environment and in our food supply, we can take the next critical step to keep San Diego safe, clean and sustainable for generations to come.
Ward represents the 3rd District on the San Diego City Council.