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The Oceanside City Council has advanced a citywide ban on single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, containers and other materials. Stock photo
The Oceanside City Council has advanced a citywide ban on single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, containers and other materials. Stock photo
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Oceanside Styrofoam ban goes into effect next summer

OCEANSIDE — Moving forward with a ban on single-use plastics and polystyrene foam passed earlier this year, the City Council has approved an ordinance outlining how and when the ban will be enacted.

In May, the council voted to ban single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, also known as Styrofoam. At the time, staff was directed to bring back an ordinance outlining the ban’s details by August.

Approved by the City Council on Aug. 23, the “Marine Debris Reduction Ordinance” will prohibit businesses from distributing any polystyrene foam and single-use plastic bags at all retail establishments and will require a 10-cent charge for reusable or recyclable bags.

No Oceanside businesses will be exempt from the new rules.

The ban on polystyrene foam will kick in on July 1, 2024, and the single-use plastics ban on Jan. 1, 2025, giving businesses at least a year to 18 months to adjust to the new law.

Examples of banned items include polystyrene egg cartons, takeout boxes at restaurants, food trays, shipping boxes, packing peanuts and other packing materials. It will also include non-encapsulated polystyrene foam products like some pool or beach toys, ice chests, cools, navigation markers, anchors, mooring buoys or dock floats.

Surfboards, pool noodles, aquatic fitness equipment and produce bags will not be banned under the new rules. The city also makes the exception for prepared food packaged outside of the city, packaging for drugs, medical devices and biological materials, and product packing materials pre-packaged outside of the city – except egg cartons.

The city is paying MainStreet Oceanside $10,500, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce $10,000 and Holt Consulting $80,475 to provide businesses with education and technical assistance regarding the ban.

Water Utilities Division Manager Rosemarie Chora told the City Council at its Aug. 23 meeting that the city funds used to pay for these services were originally earmarked for other professional services contemplated for the city’s solid waste and recycling division.

According to Chora, city staff will partner with MainStreet Oceanside and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce to develop and conduct business workshops to teach local business owners about the new rules. Additionally, retail establishments will be required to post educational material about the ordinance.

The ordinance did not develop any new penalties for noncompliance, and the city is expected to respond to violations on a complaint basis.

Mitch Silverstein, Oceanside resident and policy coordinator for Surfrider Foundation San Diego, an organization long advocating for bans on single-use plastics and polystyrene foam across the region, praised the City Council and staff for the ordinance.

“Everyone has done such a fabulous job… making a really good ordinance that, to be honest, is a much simpler, more effective and better ordinance than the one we proposed that was based on San Diego’s that had different timelines for different businesses,” Silverstein said. “The compromise of having a longer timeline but no exemptions is going to make a better, simpler ordinance.”

While several members of the public shared their support of the ordinance, some cautioned the city that more needed to be done.

Oceanside resident Dianne Woelke said the ordinance needed to take a few steps further.

“In 2022, the U.S. produced over 23 thousand million pounds of LDPE – low density polyethylene – which is what plastic bags are made of,” Woelke said. “The requirement of a 10-cent tax on bags that are thicker LDPE plastic is not going to fix our problems. The recycling rate is currently between 5% and 6% — these are not recyclable plastics, they do not break down, they persist for hundreds of years.”

Woelke then suggested requiring these bags to have woven handles “at a minimum,” and requiring reusable foodware for dining onsite at restaurants.

Councilmember Eric Joyce, who, along with Mayor Esther Sanchez, proposed the ban earlier this year, said he has “high expectations” for businesses to be ready once the ban officially takes effect.

“A paper version of this without any kind of follow up is just as useless as not having anything at all,” Joyce said.

1 comment

JohnEldon August 29, 2023 at 11:32 am

Better late than never.

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