Back in February Ventura City Council voted unanimously to direct City Staff to draft ordinance language for a citywide ban on expanded polystyrene foam (EPS aka styrofoam) foodware products at restaurants and stores. A lot has happened since then. Regardless, the ordinance language should be coming back in the coming weeks for discussion and approval. Here’s our support letter to City Council:

Dear Mayor LeVere and Ventura City Council,

Now is the time to take action on plastic pollution. Unfortunately, legislators in Sacramento recently failed to pass a comprehensive plastics reduction bill for California. In response, it’s more important than ever for cities to continue source reduction efforts and build on the 130+ local ordinances throughout the state that address plastic pollution.

After the Ventura City Council discussion in February, all that is proposed is a ban on expanded polystyrene foam (EPS aka styrofoam) foodware products at restaurants and stores. Sure, it would be great to see something more comprehensive but this tackles the most troublesome form of plastic pollution and would be a big step forward.

EPS foam is troublesome because these single use products, in the form of cups or takeaway containers, all too often end up as litter due to the ease with which they break apart. Once broken, the real damage begins: tiny, toxic foam bubbles slip into our streams, sand, and ultimately the ocean where they will stay…forever. Unlike natural products, EPS foam does not biodegrade.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase of EPS foam litter around town and on the beach since the majority of restaurant orders have been for takeaway lately. One of the good things about the proposed ordinance for restaurants is that it only bans EPS foam and leaves all other foodware options available to them.

There are many great cost-competitive alternatives available. If a restaurant can’t find a cost-competitive food ware container they can apply for an exemption to the ordinance while they work with the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability for solutions. These ordinances typically have a 3-6 month delay for implementation. That allows restaurants and stores time to go through any existing stock of EPS foam and prepare for the ordinance to take effect.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 70 restaurants signed in to support an EPS foam ban. This list included a few restaurants that were still using EPS foam for an item or two but knew it was time for something different. Since then Surfrider has done limited outreach to restaurants for a variety of reasons but we are planning for restaurant owners or managers to show support the next time City Council discusses the proposed ordinance.

Ojai has taken action by banning EPS foam along with Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and a dozen places in Los Angeles County. Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Thousand Oaks are interested in taking action also but they need to see the City of Ventura lead on the issue of plastic pollution.

We urge your support to pass the EPS foam ban for Ventura!

###

City of Ventura residents can send this action alert to help encourage City Council to pass the EPS foam ban.