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Oceanside restaurants embrace Styrofoam ban with compostable alternatives

Oceanside businesses and restaurants can no longer distribute styrofoam packaging. The polystyrene foam ban is now in effect. KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen has reactions from local businesses.

Starting July 1, restaurants and businesses in Oceanside can no longer distribute polystyrene or Styrofoam containers — the city's Marine Debris Reduction Ordinance is now in effect.

Allmine Pizza Owner Roxana Pavel is already doing it. The pizza shop has never used Styrofoam since it opened two years ago.

“Styrofoam is actually very detrimental to the environment,” she said.


While compostable to-go containers might be a bit more expensive, she said that's just part of doing business. (They only add pennies to the dollar, she said.)

“That includes rent, labor, food and to-go containers. So, anything that we pay that we actually give to a consumer, we transfer that cost, and we build it into our products," said Pavel, who's been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. "I think in the long run, it's definitely cheaper because the cost of the impact to the environment is much higher.”

She said 10 years ago, it was harder to find compostable containers, but now they’re available from almost every major supplier.

Nearby at Matsu, Owner-Chef William Eick, also supports the ban.

“We're actually really excited for it because we want to be a very sustainable and conscious restaurant,” he said.


He also uses compostable containers, and he hopes the ban will encourage his suppliers to ditch Styrofoam. Fresh seafood is shipped to his restaurant from an Oceanside-based broker in Styrofoam containers for temperature control.

“So we're excited to see how they handle that," Eick said. "And maybe we can reuse the containers that they do come in, or we can send them back to them, and they can reuse them and make it a little more sustainable.”

The problem with Styrofoam containers is that when you finish with your food and throw it in the trash, they don’t always stay there. They sometimes end up on the beach and break down into small pieces that end up in the ocean.

“Yeah. Fish eat (those tiny pieces). We eat the fish," said Mitch Silverstein, policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation San Diego County. "Plastic is already in my body. It's in your body, it's in the body of everyone ... so it's really important that local cities step up and take action to reduce it in our environment."

That's why the polystyrene ban in Oceanside is part of the city's Marine Debris Reduction Ordinance.

It's something the Surfrider Foundation has been pushing for years. Styrofoam containers are the most commonly picked-up items during the group's beach cleanup events.

Styrofoam is the first phase of the ordinance. Come January, Oceanside will also ban single-use plastic bags.

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