The on Tuesday will re-consider a polystyrene to-go container ban, which has been part of community discussions before.
The ban on polystyrene plastic (labeled recycle No. 6) and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS)—best known as Styrofoam—was recommended by the city’s Green Task Force back in May.
The council directed city staffers to develop an alternative, educational approach in partnership with the polystyrene industry organizations that were offering their assistance.
And so the Green Task Force requested an educational plan from the consortium of industry groups. In a June 20 meeting, the panel reviewed the proposed plan and raised concerns that it would not address the elimination of polystyrene plastic and EPS foam.
"The industry groups stated that they must remain material-neutral in their approach and they will not commit to focusing restaurants on the eco-friendly food service containers," said Lisa Ryder Moore, former member of the Green Task Force. "Their approach was focused on the recyclability of food-service polystyrene, something that is rarely recycled because of food contamination and which holds minimal value in the recycled commodities market."
The Green Task Force’s goal is to minimize the potential of these toxic products getting into the ocean by eliminating them from the local waste stream altogether. These products are a proven risk to marine life and human health, according to Heal the Bay.
Thus, it remains the task force's recommendation to pursue a ban in conjunction with an educational program for businesses.
More than 50 California jurisdictions already have similar bans in place and there are numerous alternative options for restaurants.
Products made of materials such as aluminum, coated and uncoated paper, compostable plant-based fibers and bio-plastics are readily available as evident by the distributor list published by the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
"Frankly, we're playing 'catch-up' on this issue. We think Hermosa Beach should continue to move towards sustainability by heeding the advice of Heal the Bay and other respected organizations on this issue," said Dave Pedersen, former Green Task Force member.
In an effort to raise awareness in the community and to gather more local support, an online petition was created a couple of weeks ago at the change.org website. The petition, which you can still sign, has received more than 680 signatures from around the world, of which more than 200 are from the local community.
In addition, the ban has gained support from organizations such as Heal the Bay, Clean Water Action, Surfrider Foundation and Coastal Playground. Many local restaurants, which will be most impacted by the ban, have been supportive and have sent letters of support to the City Council.
This is an important issue for the local community, which thrives off of a healthy ocean environment.
Brian Schoening, a former Hermosa Beach Green Task Force member, is an experienced sustainability professional and former aerospace engineer. He currently works for Northrop Grumman Corporation as a sustainability analyst.