Foam PS to-go food containers stacked against a grey background.

More than 130 California cities now have PS bans, including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. | Justinboat.29/Shutterstock

Los Angeles banned expanded polystyrene after a unanimous Dec. 6 vote by the 12 city council members present, following the lead of other California cities. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the ban will take effect April 23 for businesses with more than 26 employees. Surfboards, safety devices, craft supplies, certain construction and building materials, coolers completely enclosed in a more durable material, and packaging or containers for drugs, medical devices or biological materials are all exempt. 

Health facilities and residential care facilities are also exempt, and the ordinance includes a provision that the ban can be temporarily suspended if the U.S. president or California governor declares a disaster or local emergency. 

A similar ban will go into effect in San Diego, Calif. in April after several years of litigation. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the ban will cover foam egg cartons, coolers, ice chests, pool toys, dock floats, mooring buoys and food trays. 

Businesses with annual incomes of less than $500,000 get an extra year to come into compliance, pushing their deadline to April 2024. There are also hardship exemptions for businesses that have long-term contracts for non-compliant products. 

More than 130 California cities now have PS bans, including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

With its very low recycling rates, foam polystyrene has been the target of elimination not just in a number of cities but also at some brand owners and retailers. The U.S. Plastics Pact, which is made up of various stakeholders in the plastic packaging value chain, including brand owners and retailers, has included rigid and foam polystyrene on its list of “problematic and unnecessary” materials that it says should be phased out.

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