San Diego may ban plastic foam food containers over pollution concerns

San Diego may ban plastic foam food containers over pollution concerns
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San Diego is considering a ban on polystyrene food containers that, if passed, would make it the largest California city to do so.

Polystyrene, a nonbiodegradable plastic foam, is used for takeaway food and beverage containers, egg cartons, coolers and other products.

More than 116 cities in California have banned the product over concerns about ocean pollution and marine life health, according to the Los Angeles Times. Officials said that the city collected more than 12,500 pieces of the material along San Diego beaches last year.

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Opponents of the ban, including restaurants, say that banning the product would result in higher costs for businesses and customers, and that there are no viable alternatives that recycle well and keep food hot or cold.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward, who is leading the charge, said the packaging industry has begun to “evolve,” making restaurant concerns invalid.

"This is all about trying to get the plastics out of our oceans and out of our streams," he said.

The ban, which could be voted on by the city council in September, would fine violators $200 for a first offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses.

The move comes after companies and cities nationwide have begun acting to ban plastic straws and drink stirrers in an effort to reduce ocean pollution.