San Diego/ Weather & Environment
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Published on April 24, 2024
San Diego's Ban on Single-Use Plastics and Polystyrene Shapes Eco-Friendly FutureSource: City of San Diego

It's been a solid year since San Diego turned up its nose at single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, with many local businesses now waving the eco-friendly flag. According to a city announcement, the Single Use Plastic Reduction Ordinance, which kicked in on April 1, 2023, steers the ship toward cleaner community shores, ditching items like foam plates and plastic straws unless customers specifically ask for them.

Polystyrene foam — better known to the layman as Styrofoam — is a notorious environmental villain, breaking down into pesky pieces that play a long game of keep-away with degradation. Under the ordinance, such materials, including community fixtures like parks and beaches, are now barred from San Diego's locale. Meanwhile, all businesses were expected to have jumped on board as of March 31, with extensions given only to those waving the flag of financial or feasibility hardship — or to those knocked about by the January 22 storm, the city's website notes.

San Diego remains ready to lend a hand with resources galore on their website for the stragglers still clinging to single-use plastics. It's a treasure trove of sustainable swaps, educational webinars, and even snazzy signage for restaurants to alert customers about the ongoing eco-crusade. Despite being recycling outcasts and litter personalities at California beaches, plastic straws and utensils now only make a cameo at a customer's request or a self-service encore.

As the grace period has drawn to a close, businesses without a cushy financial cushion were given the nod for a waiver until recently. According to the ordinance, they have to show proof of financial hardship to keep their foam and plastics in play. Interested parties in dire straits still hoping to snag a waiver or exemption can email them to [email protected]. It's a move that aligns with the city's grand Zero Waste Plan and Climate Action Plan goals.