Plastic Pollution
May 04 2011

Can California Rise Above The Foam?  Only With Your Help…

by Bill Hickman

California's Senate Bill 568 would enact a ban on expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) take-out food packaging throughout the state.  Surfrider strongly supports SB 568 because it will help keep the beach free of a commonly littered item that can effect marine life. 

There are two ways you can help:

1) If you live in California, please sign this online action alert then share it with you friends and fmaily.  If you don't live in CA but know someone that does, please share it with them:

2) Getting support from California restaurants is BIG.  Do you know a California restaurant owner or manager that would sign on in support of SB 568?  If so, they can email or fax 916-327-9113 the following info:

-a statement of support for SB 568 (Lowenthal)

-name of the restaurant

-address of the restaurant

-name and title of person at the restaurant that sending the support message

Any questions?  You can email  Here's more info on SB 568:

The Problem:  Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), often referred to as Styrofoam®) is pervasive in the environment. It is extremely damaging throughout its lifecycle and is rarely recycled.

The environment is inundated with polystyrene. It islightweight and breaks apart easily. EPS escapes litter cleanup and is widely dispersed on land and in waterways. It is often mistaken for food by birds, fish and other wildlife. EPS comprises 15% of street and storm drain litter. It causes flooding in storm drains. Foamdegrades neighborhoods, parks and beaches.

Workers in polystyrene products manufacturing areexposed to many harmful chemicals, including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone. Occupational exposure to Styrene increases risk of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. High rates of neurotoxicological effects have been reported in workers.

Public health is threatened by the use of polystyrene food containers. Styrene migrates from the containers into food and beverages when heated or in contact with fatty or acidic foods.  Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue- every American is exposed through food and packaging. According to the federal government, Styrene is a carcinogen in lab animal testing, a probable human carcinogen and a neurotoxin

Local jurisdictions spend millionscleaning litter. Caltrans spends approximately $60 million a year to remove litter and debris from roadsides and highways, The County of Los Angeles (L.A.) spends $18 million annually on litter cleanup and education. Southern CA jurisdictions that have to comply with state storm water regulations to get their trash discharges to zero have already spent billions of taxpayer dollars controlling, capturing, and removing trash.

Jobs will not be lost. There are few jobs related to making foam food-ware in California. There are only two foam container manufacturers in California and both of them make non foam containers. These jobs can be replaced in California factories that produce safer products, like Dart Container, Pactiv, Hutamachi, International Paper, and Biosphere Products.

There are similarly-priced alternatives. Many restaurants use non-foam containers and have for a long time. Since 47 California jurisdictions have already implemented bans on EPS, there are many businesses that have switched. They can find comparably priced and even cheaper alternatives.

Recycling is not the answer. Polystyrene containers are rarely recycled because it’s not cost effective. Food contaminated containers can’t be recycled, unless they are washed.

The Solution:  SB 568 will eliminate a pernicious source of plastic pollution.