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Encinitas commission advances next phase of plastics initiative

ENCINITAS —  During its April 9 meeting, the city’s Environmental Commission unanimously approved the third phase of the Encinitas Plastics Initiative, sending the new recommendation to the City Council for approval.

Phase Three expands previous restrictions by prohibiting the distribution and retail sale of polystyrene food service utensils, egg cartons, to-go boxes, packaging materials, and products not encased in hard plastic such as coolers, ice chests or similar containers.

Previous stages limited the distribution of plastic straws and utensils to request-only, as well as banned the distribution and sales of plastic bottled beverages on city property and at city-sponsored events.

Commission members discussed the implementation of Phase Three and how it would impact small businesses, retailers, and local schools.

Among the clarifications was whether large box retailers, such as Target or Smart and Final, would be among those restricted from selling plastic utensils or Styrofoam containers — the answer being yes.

During the meeting, Environmental Commissioner June Honsberger questioned whether local schools would continue to be exempt from the initiative.

“As a local schoolteacher, I would… support not exempting our schools,” Honsberger said. “[They] need a push in the right direction and… contribute a lot of [waste] every single day.”

The commission acknowledged that originally public schools were exempt from the initiative due to a perceived lack of regulatory oversight and many already have individual recycling programs.

Phase Three of the Encinitas Plastics Initiative will be sent to City Council for discussion and possible approval at the upcoming April 22 meeting.