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Santa Monica State Senator Urges Passage of Statewide Ban on Styrofoam Containers


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By Lookout Staff

May 23, 2017 -- Santa Monica State Senator Ben Allen on Monday joined environmentalists and Los Angeles City leaders to urge passage of a bill he co-authored that would ban Styrofoam take-out food containers across California.

Modeled on a 2008 ban of non-recyclable plastic disposable food service containers in the City of Santa Monica, Senate Bill 705, would prohibit the use of such carry-out containers by January 1, 2020, said Allen.

More than 100 cities and counties in California -- including Santa Monica, Culver City, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, West Hollywood and San Francisco -- have enacted local laws that limit use of Polystyrene( commonly known as Styrofoam), he said.

“We’ve reached the point where consumers and cities understand the risks and harm of polystyrene and want to shift to more sustainable and healthy alternatives,” Allen said at a Monday news conference at UCLA with Los Angeles City Council Members Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz, and others.

“This statewide ban on the use of polystyrene for takeout food containers will significantly reduce the amount of waste littering our ocean and it will protect wildlife, the public health and future generations from harm,” Allen said.

Polystyrene does not decompose. Instead, it breaks into increasingly smaller pieces that often end up in oceans and waterways, harming wildlife and leaching toxins into water, he said.

Styrene, a neurotoxin and cancer-causing chemical, also migrates from foam containers into food and beverages, increasing health risks for consumers, Allen said.

The Ocean Protection Council has estimated the current cost of cleaning up marine debris annually may exceed $1 billion. Nonrecycled single-use food packaging costs California families hundreds of dollars annually in hidden litter clean-up costs.

Local governments are also hard hit by these costs, Allen said.

“This is an issue that needs both local and statewide leadership,” said Nancy Shrodes of Heal the Bay in Santa Monica.

She added that over the last ten years, volunteers have picked up nearly 500,000 foam items during Heal the Bay’s beach clean ups.

The bill -- which it titled the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act -- is supported by the Californians Against Waste, the California League of Conservation Voters, Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club California and Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.

It has passed the State Senate Environmental Quality Committee and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.


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