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San Marcos Plastics Reduction

10 • 26 • 2021

San Marcos Plastics Reduction

On October 26, 2021, San Marcos became the second non-coastal city in San Diego County to pass a comprehensive plastics reduction ordinance.

Taking inspiration from ordinances passed by coastal cities in San Diego County, the City of San Marcos gave approval in late 2019 for city staff to draft a single-use plastics (SUP) reduction ordinance. This important effort was spearheaded by San Marcos City Councilmember Randy Walton, a longtime surfer who has witnessed with his own eyes the stunning increase in plastic pollution in our ocean and on our beaches over his lifetime.

After a lengthy but understandable waiting time due to the coronavirus pandemic, city staff released the draft ordinance in July 2021. With help from Oceana SoCal, our chapter activists submitted a detailed recommendation letter with ways to clarify and strengthen the ordinance. 

San Marcos’ ordinance will achieve the following steps to reduce plastic pollution in San Marcos: 

Prohibit distribution of most single-use plastic food ware accessories – straws, utensils, condiments, etc. – and also require that any “plastic alternative” disposable accessories be given out only upon customer request. Goes into effect July 1, 2022.

Require all disposable food service ware – takeout boxes, cups, clamshells,  etc. – to be either recyclable or compostable, as determined by the City’s waste hauler. Goes into effect July 1, 2023.

Prohibit the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) food ware at all food establishments. Goes into effect July 1, 2024

The City Council voted unanimously to pass this ordinance at its first reading on Oct 12, 2021. It passed again at its second reading on Oct 26, making San Marcos our second non-coastal city (after Vista) to pass a plastics ordinance. Surfrider is thankful to see this ordinance pass with a unanimous vote, way to go San Marcos!