Caring for the marine environment through ocean awareness, advocacy, and citizen action.
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Banning Styrofoam Take-Out Containers

The most abundant type of non-cigarette litter is foamed polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam.

Just like all other types of plastic, Styrofoam never fully biodegrades, and because of it's lightweight nature, can easily travel through gutters, storm drains, or on the wind, and reach the ocean.

Just like other forms of plastic in the marine environment, Styrofoam breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain that we depend on. Visit our Plastic Pollution page for more on the impacts of plastic

Polystyrene is a threat to our ocean, environment and communities alike!

1. Polystyrene/Styrofoam contains toxic chemicals that leach into hot foods and beverages.
2. In most cities and counties, Styrofoam cannot be recycled. Styrofoam is never compostable.
3. Styrofoam never fully biodegrades and thus easily become litter, costing communities economically and environmentally.
4. Bans on Styrofoam containers reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and prevent plastic pollution.
5. Alternatives made from recycled content cardboard and compostable/biodegradable materials are readily available.


These local cities have a Styrofoam 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)
  • Unincorporated County of Santa Cruz (in effect 8/12/2008, Expanded ordinance 10/17/2012)
  • City of Watsonville (In effect 9/25/2009, expanded ordinance 2/11/2014)

*Each of these above local jurisdictions expanded their Styrofoam bans to prohibit retail sales of foam products such as plates, cups, bowls, peanuts, and coolers. They are the strictest Styrofoam bans in the nation!

  • City of Carmel (In effect 1989)
  • City of Pacific Grove (In effect 10/16/2008)
  • City of Monterey (In effect 9/2/2009)
  • Unincorporated County of Monterey (In effect 11/1/2010)
  • City of Seaside (In effect 8/4/2010)
  • City of Scotts Valley (In effect 6/17/2009)
  • City of Marina (In effect 5/1/2012)
  • City of Salinas (In effect 2/17/2012)
  • Unincorporated County of San Mateo (In effect 10/1/2012)
  • City of Half Moon Bay (In effect 8/1/2011)
  • Unincorporated County of Santa Clara (In effect 2/1/2013)
  • City of Sunnyvale (In effect 7/2/2012)
  • City of San Jose (In effect 1/1/2014)
  • Each coastal jurisdiction in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties - except Sand City - have each passed bans on Styrofoam take-out containers.


Save Our Shores continues to advocate for bans on Styrofoam take-out containers

  • State of California: In 2011, Save Our Shores advocated in strong support of SB 568, a bill to ban Styrofoam take-out containers throughout California. The bill was suspended until 2013. Read Clean Water Action's Fact-Sheet-on-SB-568 to find out why a California ban on Styrofoam is a good idea.
  • The City of San Jose: SOS is working with Save the Bay on a campaign to get Styrofoam take-out containers banned.


What you can do with leftover Styrofoam packaging?

Here is the answer! There are a few drop off locations in Santa Cruz that use the Styrofoam to make new surfboards. The program is called Waste to Waves.

The drop off locations include:
O'Neill Surf Shop
1115 41st Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA

Rip Curl Santa Cruz Outlet
1604 Mission St.
Santa Cruz, CA

Rip Curl Santa Cruz
753 41st Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA

Stretch Surfboards
983 Tower Place
Santa Cruz, CA

There are also donation boxes at various locations in San Francisco, Ventura/Santa Barbara, LA County, Orange County and San Diego County.

Waste to Waves can not take:
Styrofoam that is contaminated by food
Styrofoam packing peanuts (but you can donate these to your local UPS store)
Broken surfboards (but these can be donated to instead)


Find out more information on

Take Action to ban polystyrene containers all around the Sanctuary:
Citizens can report businesses illegally using Styrofoam containers on this easy online form


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