San Francisco Just Issued The Country’s Broadest Ban On Styrofoam

"This stuff is an environmental and public health pollutant, and we have to reduce its use.”

San Francisco just took a major step to save the environment.

The city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance to ban the sale of polystyrene -- more commonly known by its brand-name “styrofoam” -- on Tuesday.

It’s the broadest ban on the product in the country, according to Mother Jones.

"The science is clear," London Breed, Board of Supervisors president, said in a statement in April. "This stuff is an environmental and public health pollutant, and we have to reduce its use."

Starting January 1, 2017, vendors will no longer be able to sell polystyrene products, from food packaging and coffee cups to packing peanuts and pool toys, according to Science Alert. And starting July 1, styrofoam fish and meat trays in supermarkets will also be banned.

Styrofoam is a major problem for the environment. A polystyrene coffee cup, once trashed, can take up to 500 years to break down, according to Harvard University.

Styrofoam also can’t be easily recycled, according to Smithsonian magazine. That means it often ends up in landfills or in the ocean, where it breaks down into small pieces and can be eaten by marine animals, according to National Geographic.

More than 100 cities across the country already restrict the use or sale of styrofoam in some fashion, according to Groundswell.

Miami-Dade, for instance, recently banned the product from its beaches and parks, and Washington D.C. outlawed its use in take-out food packaging.

But San Francisco’s will be the largest ban yet, according to the SF board of supervisors. It expands San Francisco’s previous efforts to limit styrofoam, with a 2007 ban on polystyrene in food containers, according to NBC.  

Now San Francisco is that much closer to reaching “zero waste by 2020.”



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