Single Use Polystyrene Ordinance
On April 17, 2012, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors adopted a new ordinance to restrict the sale of polystyrene products in the unincorporated County. The ordinance takes effect on October 17, 2012.
The full text of the ordinance along with related material is available here (link to PDF).
For more information, contact the Department of Public Works at (831) 454-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does the new ordinance do?
The ordinance revises the County Code to further restrict the sale of polystyrene foam products in the County. This specifically includes products such as polystyrene cups, plates, bowls, coolers and beach toys, the source of much of the polystyrene debris found on our local beaches. The ordinance exempts food products which are packaged outside the County, as well as products where polystyrene is used for insulation or flotation purposes and is completely encased by a more durable material. Examples of this include surfboards, boats and some construction materials. The ordinance also provides for updating this list as new products emerge.
Why is the County doing this?
In 2008 the County and each of the local cities adopted ordinances prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam packaging in food service. After more than three years this action has resulted in significant changes, including near-universal compliance by local businesses and a reduction of polystyrene packaging waste in the landfill and in litter along county roadsides, streams and beaches. Unfortunately, according to local environmental organizations, polystyrene foam is still one of the most abundant types of litter found during beach cleanups.
What’s the problem with polystyrene?
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin which potentially threatens human health. Alternative products exist for almost all uses of polystyrene foam. Further restricting the sale of polystyrene foam products will provide additional protection for the health and safety of the residents of the County of Santa Cruz and the County’s natural environment, waterways and wildlife, will enhance the marine environment of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, will advance the County’s goal of limiting greenhouse gas impacts, and will contribute toward the County’s goal of Zero Waste.
What are the cities doing?
The City of Capitola passed the same ordinance in November 2011. The cities of Watsonville, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz are all considering similar ordinances.
When does this ordinance take effect?
The ordinance takes effect on October 17, 2012, six months after final passage by the Board of Supervisors.