Single Use Polystyrene Ordinance
On April 17, 2012, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance to restrict the sale of polystyrene products in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. The ordinance took effect on October 17, 2012.
The full text of the ordinance along with related material is available here.
For more information, contact the Department of Public Works at (831) 454-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does the ordinance do?
The ordinance revises the County Code to further restrict the sale of polystyrene foam products in Santa Cruz County. This specifically includes products such as polystyrene cups, plates, bowls, coolers and beach toys, the source of much of the polystyrene debris found on our local beaches. The ordinance exempts food products which are packaged outside the County, as well as products where polystyrene is used for insulation or flotation purposes and is completely encased by a more durable material. Examples of this include surfboards, boats and some construction materials. The ordinance also provides for updating this list as new products emerge.
Why is the County doing this?
In 2008 the County and each of the local cities adopted ordinances prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam packaging in food service. This action resulted in significant changes, including near-universal compliance by local businesses and a reduction of polystyrene packaging waste in the landfill and in litter along county roadsides, streams and beaches.
What’s the problem with polystyrene?
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin which could potentially threaten human health and the environment. Alternative products exist for almost all uses of polystyrene foam. Further restricting the sale of polystyrene foam products will provide additional protection for the health and safety of the residents of the County of Santa Cruz and the County’s natural environment, waterways and wildlife, will enhance the marine environment of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, will advance the County’s goal of limiting greenhouse gas impacts; and will help the County reach its zero waste goal.
What are the cities doing?
The Cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, and Watsonville have adopted full polystyrene ban ordinances like the County's ban. The City of Scotss Valley has a polystyrene ban that effects restaurant food service ware and packaging.
When did the ordinance take effect?
The ordinance took effect on October 17, 2012, six months after final passage by the Board of Supervisors.