Skip to main content

Solana Beach Moves Toward Banning Plastic Foam Food Containers

Evening Edition host Peggy Pico speaks with Solana Beach City Councilman Peter Zahn about a vote scheduled next week that could make Solana Beach the first city in San Diego County to ban plastic foam food containers, commonly known as Styrofoam.

Solana Beach Moves Toward Banning Plastic Foam Food Containers


Peter Zahn, city councilman, Solana Beach


Photo credit: Associated Press

Foam soup containers are stacked in a New York restaurant, Feb. 14, 2013.

Solana Beach is continuing its progressive stance to protect the environment with a move to ban polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam. The action would mostly affect restaurants that use the plastic foam food containers.

"Once food contaminates the styrofoam container, it is not recyclable at all," said city councilman Peter Zahn on Tuesday's Midday Edition. He said the containers end up in landfills, contaminating the beach and polluting marine ecosystems.

Solana Beach became the first city to ban plastic grocery bags. If the City Council approves the polystyrene ban at its meeting on Oct. 28, the city also will be the first in San Diego County to prohibit plastic foam containers.

Solana Beach and Encinitas are the only cities in the county that ban plastic grocery bags, but a measure that would impose a statewide ban on plastic bags is set for a vote in November 2016.

Zahn proposed the ordinance that would require restaurants to move from polystyrene to more environmentally friendly containers like paper because he says polystyrene is not biodegradable. The ban would also include certain packing material such as foam peanuts or cushioning that originate in the city.

Opponents of the ban include Solana Beach restaurant owners who say the cost would be too great to switch to other products. However, Zahn thinks the ban could actually stoke new business creation.

"I see a business opportunity here," said Zahn. "This is creating a bigger and bigger demand. There are a lot of interesting plant materials that could be used. There's opportunity for innovation here."

The council approved the ordinance on a 4-1 vote last week, with Councilwoman Ginger Marshall opposed. Next week's vote is needed to make the ban official. If approved, it would take effect in 30 days but businesses would have up to six months to use up existing stock and supplies, Zahn said.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.