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Climate and Environment

LA Officials Unanimously Vote To Ban Styrofoam Products

Discarded plastic and other material overflow in a garbage bin.
Discarded plastic and other material overflow in a garbage bin on Oct. 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The L.A. City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene — commonly known as Styrofoam. Styrofoam products include takeout boxes and reusable coffee cups.

The details: Businesses with more than 26 employees must comply with the ban beginning in April of next year, and smaller businesses have until April 2024. L.A. joins more than 100 California cities and counties with styrofoam bans or restrictions on the books. The council also passed an ordinance on reusable bags at stores and markets, and they voted to reduce the use of single-use plastics including plates and utensils.

What environmentalists are saying: Emily Parker, a coastal and marine scientist at Heal the Bay and co-chair of the Reusable L.A. Coalition, said “a big part of implementing the law will be actually doing the outreach and making sure that folks know that this law is in place. So we're really excited to work directly with L.A. Sanitation and the Department of Public Works to make sure that that outreach is really strong.”

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As part of the ordinance, there will be fines for businesses that don't comply with the law, but Parker said that should be a last resort.

Why this matters: Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell agrees that these policies will help reduce pollution: "A ban on styrofoam would be a milestone toward ending toxic pollution that fouls our waterways and oceans," in addition to harming humans.