Los Angeles City Council Bans Expanded Polystyrene

Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed three plastic reduction ordinances, supported by Reusable LA. These new laws ban the distribution and sale of expanded polystyrene (EPS) products, close loopholes in the citywide single-use plastic bag ban, and require city departments to implement zero waste practices at city facilities and events.

Advocates have been working on banning expanded polystyrene (commonly called Styrofoam) for more than a decade. Foam foodware accessories, including takeout containers and cups, can leach toxic chemicals and pose a threat to human health and the environment. Additionally, City Councilmembers voted to fix a problematic loophole that allowed for the distribution of thicker disposable plastic bags in grocery stores that were marketed as “reusable”.

Los Angeles creates nearly 30 million tons of municipal waste each year, and plastic is the greatest contributor to the waste stream by item. These measures will reduce waste, save businesses money, lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and improve public health.

The three ordinances were supported by Reusable LA, an environmental advocacy coalition made up of over 30 organizations working to reduce plastic pollution and move LA towards a thriving culture of reuse. Coalition partners have been working on an EPS ban and the citywide single-use plastic bag ban for over 14 years, and on this specific ordinance since 2019. A recent public engagement campaign, resulting in more than 5,300 emails to City Council and more than 80 public comments in support of the ordinances, was spearheaded by Reusable LA.

Quotes from Reusable LA Coalition:

“Reusable LA is thrilled to see Los Angeles move forward after a decade of working on these ordinances,” said Alison Waliszewski and Emily Parker, Co-Chairs of Reusable LA. “City Council has demonstrated incredible leadership by prioritizing community health in banning toxic expanded polystyrene. We applaud their commitment to fixing loopholes in the single-use plastic-bag ban that allowed for the sale and use of thicker single-use plastic bags and we’re especially glad to see Los Angeles commit to a culture shift towards a zero-waste circular economy by its requirement for zero-waste plans in all city facilities and events.”

“We have a lot more to do to reduce our reliance on plastics and get it out of our water, air, and bodies, (and also reduce our dependence on oil), but this is an important step in that process.”

Lisa Hart, board member, Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance

“I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have dedicated the past 13 years to stopping plastic pollution at the source. The passage and implementation of these bans are a tremendous milestone in the movement to measurably reduce plastic pollution and its toxic impacts. Together with Reusable LA, we look forward to our home city being grounded in non-toxic reusables and refillables!” – Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition

“As a native Angeleno and ocean protector, I am thrilled to see our City of Los Angeles leading the way to a healthier and more sustainable future by protecting our communities from the toxic health impacts of plastic pollution. Plastic is harmful at every stage of its death cycle, from the extraction of fossil fuels to plastic production and incineration. We thank the City of LA Council Members for taking this important first step to protect the health of our future generations as we push for real solutions and transition to a thriving nontoxic reuse and refill economy.” – Melissa Aguayo, Break Free From Plastic US Regional Coordinator

“When only 5% of plastic is recycled and much of our exported waste is illegally dumped, we need to find real solutions that reduce our plastic consumption,” said Cheryl Auger, President of Ban SUP (Single Use Plastic). “ The benefits are numerous: reduced consumption of resources; costs; and pollution; along with less noise and decreased health conditions. LA City is leading the way to a healthier and more sustainable environment.”

“As California’s largest city, Los Angeles plays a significant role in reducing the state’s unnecessary single-use plastic, threatening our oceans, communities, and climate. Today’s decision by the LA City Council sets an example for other cities to follow as the state, and the world, continues to combat the plastic pollution crisis.” — Christy Leavitt, Campaign Director, Oceana

“These ordinances establish Los Angeles as a national leader in stopping the single-use waste crisis,” said Michael Martin, Founder and CEO, r.Cup. “As the country’s leading reuse platform investing in local communities, we’re especially excited to see the city’s commitment to implementing zero waste at their facilities and events and knowing from experience this will inspire others to follow their lead.”

Submitted by Reusable LA

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