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No more Styrofoam in San Diego

San Diego will no longer use styrofoam containers.
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San Diego will no longer allow the use of polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) within the city limits beginning in 30 days. The City Council approved the ban 6-3 on Tuesday. 

Penned by District 3 councilmember Chris Ward, the ordinance prohibits the use of the plastic materials in things such as egg cartons, food containers, coolers, ice chests, pool or beach toys, mooring buoys and navigation markers, according to Fox 5.

"By passing this measure, the council supermajority has assured San Diego's role as a national leader in pursuit of a safe, sustainable future and has made San Diego the largest city in California to ban Styrofoam," Ward said. "The negative impacts of Styrofoam are permanent and threaten the health of San Diegans, wildlife, and industries critical to our region. The time has come for us to listen to community groups, nonprofits and businesses that have been advocating for this change for years and move away from Styrofoam and plastics in San Diego."

Local small restaurants were against the ban, they argued that the expense of alternate products would have a costly effect on their budget. The San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association claims the price tag could be upwards of 145-percent more than using polystyrene. 

Detractor Councilmember Scott Sherman said the vote was an unprepared decision void of proper research. 

“The City of San Diego has the choice to be an innovative and recycling city, or a thoughtless city that merely bans items. Unfortunately, today the city has chosen the latter,” said Sherman in a statement. “This poorly researched measure will not help the environment, will hurt small minority businesses, and puts the city in a costly legal position.”

But environmentalists in support of the mandate say the cost is worth it compared to what polystyrene does to the environment which takes hundreds of years to breakdown leaving a byproduct that is toxic to animals. 

"We've found (polystyrene) alternatives to be comparable in quality and price, and in some cases, our costs have actually gone down," said Mikey Knab, a board member of Business for Good San Diego and director of operations of Ponce's Mexican Restaurant. "This ban levels the playing field for restaurants of all sizes, eliminating the opportunity for anyone to pass on the external cost of using Styrofoam that ends up in our oceans as micro-plastics to marine life and to future generations."

With the sudden popularity of food delivery services, the restriction may have an effect on those prices as well. 

The ban will begin in one month with restaurants earning less than $500,000 able to apply for a waiver of no more than two years, reports Fox 5.