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Councilman Ward Proposes Banning Styrofoam In San Diego

Foam soup containers are stacked in a New York restaurant, Feb. 14, 2013.
Associated Press
Foam soup containers are stacked in a New York restaurant, Feb. 14, 2013.
Councilman Ward Proposes Banning Styrofoam In San Diego
Councilman Proposes Banning Styrofoam In San Diego GUEST:Chris Ward, councilman, District 3 in city of San Diego

San Diego may become the fourth city in the county to ban the sale and use of styrofoam food and beverage containers a proposal announced today by City Council member Chris Ward would stop restaurants from using the material and would also ban polystyrene used in egg cartons coolers and beach toys. Just last year the San Diego City Council decided not to ban Styrofoam but instead began a recycling program for the material. We'll hear what happened to that and what chance this new proposal has. City Councilman Chris Ward joins me now. And Councilman Ward welcome to the program. Thank you Maureen. Now remind us why there's so much concern about the use of this material. What's the problem with styrofoam. Well fundamentally we know that styrofoam is a very toxic and noxious particles that reaching our waterways or oceans our beaches rivers and ultimately the food streams are impacted. And it's one of the largest pollutants that is found in our oceans so as we try to continue to work on climate action goals being environmentally conscious community as well as working towards zero waste goals for the city of San Diego doing what other cities have been doing across the state of California and tackling and banning Polystyrene is the next best step. Why have you decided to introduce this ban now. Well I was a part of the Environment Committee last year that did look at that option to instead look at enhanced recycling efforts and what we've found is that it's become practically burdensome to be able to do that much of our styrofoam that you throw into the blue container ends up getting shipped out of county into other recycling facilities and landfills not even located here in the city. Our city budget is now having to spend about 90000 dollars just to be able to support our efforts to export styrofoam out of the area. How about we start to look at what other communities have done because technologies have improved the kinds of different products that are available for the same functions have improved. Let's look at actually banning the polluting at the source. And what about compliance with that recycling were a lot of people getting into recycling their Styrofoam food containers. Or did that not catch on. Well it's difficult to say across one point three million people how many we know that many did take advantage of that when they were educated and learned about the opportunity. And again because of the acts the additional work that our environmental services department had to do to sort and recycle and ultimately export much of that styrofoam we are starting to recognize right now that it may not be the best palsied to be able to control Styrofoam and that is just come out of one year's worth of implementation of last year's actions. Now Chris Ward as I understand it your proposal would not only ban restaurant use of styrofoam for takeout food and beverages but it would ban the sale of packaged Styrofoam cups to consumers as well is that right. That's right. So when I think about some of the cartons that are found on coolers that are found on our beaches and the you know degrade very quickly and end up blowing right over into the ocean or things that are found on our sidewalks that get scooped by the wind right up into our storm drain system. All of this ultimately ends up in our waterways and in our oceans and so it's important that we have a very clear and comprehensive approach and I think that like 116 other cities have done across the state the right thing to do is to look at an outright ban. I think we're ready for it now restaurants and businesses complained about the bands that went into effect in Sinitta ETUs Xolani beach and Imperial Beach. They said they'd have to raise the price of their food because the alternatives to styrofoam are more expensive. Did that happen. I think that was more true a decade or even five years ago. And I think because there have been responses in production for alternative designs of containers or other similar products that the cost differential has really come down in recent years. I am going to work closely with the restaurant industry as well as other stakeholders in that domain to make sure that there are negligible impacts on the small businesses that otherwise might pass them on to consumers. I know you say you're going to work with them but do you expect opposition from restaurants in San Diego. I expect the same old lines of opposition but we even had members of the cone Restaurant Group and others small businesses restaurants that were with us standing side by side at the press conference this morning. There are restaurant tours that realize it is possible to be environmentally conscious without having any financial impact to their own businesses. And once we can do a better job of really connecting these dots and showing all of the restaurant tours across the region that this is possible as well for them. I think we can get there as a community. Now you referenced the fact that San Diego's headed towards a goal of zero waste. The city's first benchmark and it's zero waste plan calls for a 75 percent diversion rate of trash from landfills by 2020. That's only two years from now. How do you think this proposal will help us get to that 75 percent rate by 2020. Well I can only help us get there but like I said it's not zero waste is one element that would be afforded positively by this ordinance. Ultimately for me the real motivation is making sure that we are doing everything we can as a city and community to really reduce our pollutants that end up in our oceans. What's the process. When will this go before the City Council. Sure. So the next step is today through this action. I've submitted a memorandum to our council president who chairs the Rules Committee. That's where all council initiated actions start. We hope to hear that in the middle of June and then take the temperature of my colleagues and see if this is something that we want to further and work on throughout the rest of the year. My hope is that the opinion will be yes. The next steps will be the environment committee in the July timeframe and hopefully if all goes well a full city council discussion in the early fall. I've been speaking with San Diego City Council member Chris Ward. And thank you. Thank you Maureen.

San Diego may become the fourth city in the county to ban Styrofoam food and beverage containers.

A proposal announced Thursday by San Diego city Councilman Chris Ward would stop restaurants from using polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam, and would also ban the sale of the material in the city.

“It’s time San Diego joins over a hundred cities throughout California that have already banned these harmful environmental pollutants and moves forward toward a more sustainable future,” Ward said in a statement.

Just last year, the San Diego City Council decided not to ban Styrofoam, but instead begin a recycling program for the material.

San Diego's Climate Action Plan calls for diverting 100 percent of our waste from the landfill by 2040.

Imperial Beach voted to ban Styrofoam in January. Solana Beach and Encinitas previously approved bans.

Ward joined Midday Edition Thursday to discuss the proposal.

Councilman Ward Proposes Banning Styrofoam In San Diego