The most abundant type of non-cigarette litter is expanded polystyrene, also commonly known as Styrofoam.
Just like all other types of plastic, expanded polystyrene does not biodegrade and, because of its lightweight nature, can easily travel through gutters, storm drains, or in the wind, and reach the ocean.
Just like other forms of plastic in the marine environment, polystyrene breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain that we depend on.
Polystyrene is a threat to our ocean, environment and communities!
- Polystyrene contains toxic chemicals that leach into hot foods and beverages.
- In most cities and counties, polystyrene cannot be recycled and is never compostable.
- Polystyrene does not biodegrade and thus easily become litter, costing communities economically and environmentally.
- Bans on polystyrene food containers reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and prevent plastic pollution.
- Alternatives made from recycled content cardboard and compostable/biodegradable materials are readily available.
These local cities have a Polystyrene Food Container Ban:
- City of Capitola (In effect 2007, Expanded ordinance 2/1/2012)
- City of Santa Cruz (In effect 8/12/2008, Expanded ordinance 8/23/2012)
- Santa Cruz County (in effect 8/12/2008, Expanded ordinance 10/17/2012)
Each of the above local jurisdictions expanded their polystyrene bans to prohibit retail sales of foam products such as plates, cups, bowls, packing peanuts and coolers. They are the strictest polystyrene bans in the nation, sending a clear message that our coastal communities will stop at nothing to preserve and protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
- City of Watsonville (In effect 9/25/2009)
- City of Scotts Valley (In effect 6/17/2009)
- County of Monterey (In effect 11/1/2010)
- City of Monterey (In effect 9/2/2009)
- City of Seaside (In effect 8/4/2010)
- City of Carmel (In effect in 1989)
- City of Pacific Grove (In effect 10/16/2008)
- City of Marina (In effect 5/1/2012)
- City of Salinas (In effect 2/17/2012)
- San Mateo County (In effect 10/1/2012)
- City of Half Moon Bay (In effect 8/1/2011)
- Santa Clara County (In effect 2/1/2013)
- City of Sunnyvale (In effect 7/2/2012)
- City of Santa Clara (Effective at national food vendors on 9/1/2014 and all food vendors on 1/1/2015)
- City of San Jose (Effective 1/1/2014 for national food vendors, and all food vendors on 1/1/2015)
Each coastal jurisdiction in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, except Sand City, has passed bans on Styrofoam take-out containers.
We continue to advocate for bans on polystyrene take-out containers
- State of California: In 2011, Save Our Shores advocated in strong support of SB 568, a bill to ban polystyrene take-out containers throughout California. The bill was suspended until 2013. Read Clean Water Action’s Fact-Sheet-on-SB-568 for more information.
What can you do with leftover polystyrene packaging?
There are a few drop-off locations in Santa Cruz and Monterey that use the polystyrene to make new surfboards. The program is called Waste to Waves. For the most up-to-date information, visit their website.
There are also numerous drop-off sites in San Francisco and southern California.