Last night the Santa Cruz City Council gave their final approval on a plastic bag ban and expanded their existing foam foodware ban to include most disposable retail items made from EPS foam. The Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter was one of the first to focus on plastic pollution issues and the local activists continue to make a difference in their community.
The expanded polystyrene foam ban is one of the strictist in the nation and states that no vendor or event promoter in the City of Santa Cruz may sell, rent or otherwise provide any polystyrene/plastic foam product which is not wholly encapsulated or encased within a more durable material. This specifically includes, but is not limited to, cups, plates, bowls, clamshells and other products intended primarily for food service use, as well as coolers, containers, ice chests, shipping boxes, pool or beach toys, packing peanuts, or other packaging materials.
The citywide plastic checkout bag ban is similar to many across California, according to the City of Santa Cruz website: This ordinance seeks the reduction of single-use bags, commonly referred to as “carry out” bags. It affects all retail businesses that give their customers carry out bags. The ordinance bans the distribution of plastic carry out bags and places a 10-cent charge on all paper carry out bags given to customers which is kept by the retailer to offset the costs of implementing the program. All paper bags must contain 40% post-consumer recycled content. Restaurants are exempt, as well as bags used to contain loose items prior to checkout (such as produce bags) and bags to protect items such as meat or wet items.
Local Chapter activists sent in support letters, petitions and spoke at council meetings throught the process. Congrats to the Santa Cruz Chapter and other local organizations working on these important issues such as Save Our Shores, Surfers' Environmental Alliance, Save The Waves Coalition and Californians Against Waste. (Hopefully this will lead to less scenes like the one pictured in Pacifica.)