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Oceanside City Council recently approved a plan to ban polystyrene foam, more commonly known as Styrofoam, containers within the city. Stock photo.
Oceanside City Council recently approved a plan to ban polystyrene foam, more commonly known as Styrofoam, containers within the city. Stock photo.
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Oceanside bans Styrofoam containers

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside has joined several North County cities in banning containers made of polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam.

The Oceanside City Council unanimously approved the decision to ban polystyrene foam sales on May 3, following the City of San Diego’s recent decision to ban foam plastic materials.

Staff is expected to come back to council in August with official ordinance language outlining the ban along with a plan to help local businesses transition from using takeout and other Styrofoam items to different recyclable products.

With Oceanside now moving forward with a Styrofoam ban, that leaves only Coronado as the remaining coastal city in the county without a ban. The Surfrider Foundation, which championed the passage of the ban in San Diego, Oceanside and other coastal cities, is pushing Coronado to follow suit.

Other North County cities with Styrofoam bans include Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Vista and San Marcos. Currently, Escondido does not have a ban on Styrofoam.

Mayor Esther Sanchez and Councilmember Eric Joyce brought forward the item at the request of a citizen-led effort to enact the ban.

Around two dozen members of the public spoke in support of expanding the state’s ban on single-use plastic bags to include a ban on Styrofoam sales. Several of those speakers were local students ranging from elementary school to college-aged grades.

Students from Ann Zivotsky’s fifth grade class at Del Rio Elementary explained some of the lessons they have recently learned about the effects single-use plastics have on marine life.

According to a study from Washington University, Styrofoam takes approximately 500 years to decompose, which means any Styrofoam that exists now is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Styrofoam is rarely recycled as many processors are unable to recycle the material.

Peyton Wilson, a high school student at Surfside Academy, said more than 1,000 tons of Styrofoam is dumped into landfills in the United States every day. She also noted that 53% of beach litter consists of plastics with Styrofoam taking up 17% of litter.

Fellow Surfside Academy junior Eva Nell Brown pointed out that the chemical used in the production process of Styrofoam, along with the methane it creates while sitting in the landfill, hurts the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects the Earth’s surface from ultraviolet and other harmful rays.

“I go to the beach very often to feel one with nature, but when I see plastic trash everywhere and I see people walking away from it, it makes me feel disgusted,” Brown said. “It leaves a negative impact on the beach and interrupts my peace.”

Both students and professors from MiraCosta College also spoke in support of the polystyrene foam ban.

MiraCosta Marine Biology Professor Jeanine Sepulveda noted that there is more than meets the eye to the damage that polystyrene foam leaves on the environment. She explained that the plastics end up in the food supply leading all the way to humans.

“It’s a food security issue,” Sepulveda said. “Those chemicals end up leeching into seafood.”

As staff moves forward with working on an official plan to ban Styrofoam, council members cautioned the need to ensure businesses have enough time to adjust to the new law, including thorough outreach, education and enforcement strategies.

1 comment

Janis May 5, 2023 at 7:34 pm

Thank you for focusing on the students. They were articulate and passionate advocates! I do ask that you make one correction: “interrupts my piece” should state “interrupts my peace.” Thanks again!

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