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Santa Monica Expands Plastic Ban
By Jorge Casuso
August 15, 2018 -- Santa Monica took another step towards achieving zero waste by 2030 when the Council expanded a local ban on single-use plastics Tuesday night.
The ban, which will go into effect January 1, includes straws, lids, utensils, plates, bowls, trays, containers, stirrers, cups and lid plugs.
Beverage lids can be "on-marine degradable" but may not be made of polystyrene, according to the ordinance.
The new law -- which will impact some 800 food and beverage-related businesses in the beach city -- also require that all marine degradable disposable straws and utensils be provided to customers only upon request.
“As a beach city, single-use plastics pose serious problems for the natural environment, including polluting the ocean and clogging landfills,” Chief Sustainability Officer Dean Kubani said in a statement after the vote.
“With this vote, the City Council ensures that Santa Monica continues to leads on the environment by being one of the first cities to ban all plastic food service ware, including cups and lids."
The new ordinance expands Santa Monica's 2007 ban on polystyrene food service containers and its 2011 ban on single-use plastic bags, among the first municipal bans of their kind.
The latest ban could have an economic impact, although probably not a significant one, on food and beverage businesses in Santa Monica, City officials said.
"Staff interviewed local food service providers who reported their largest expenses were for rent and labor costs," according to staff's report to Council.
By comparison, "food service ware costs typically ranged between one and eight percent of their overall expenses," staff said.
Businesses that can show economic harship will get a one-year reprieve under a provision added by the Council
Since the first container ban was adopted in 2007, code enforcement officers have issued a total of five citations and written 69 warning letters, according to staff.
"Two years after adoption, staff identified 76 types of containers that complied with the ordinance," staff said in its report.
"With the trend of municipalities prohibiting polystyrene, the disposable food service ware market has expanded to provide more non-polystyrene materials."
On Thursday, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board is expected to approve a ban on all single-use plastic beverage straws and stirrers.
The measure is an attempt to "mitigate plastic pollution, reduce waste, and increase sustainability efforts," according to the staff report.
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