Bay Area Jumping on the “Ban Wagon”
Due to public pressure as well as efforts from various local organizations, plastic bag and Styrofoam bans have become increasingly popular in the Bay Area. In the first half of 2012, 12 Bay Area cities or counties have either adopted or implemented a ban on these harmful substances. As a result, there are currently 13 cities or counties that have implemented a ban on plastic bags while 32 cities or counties have prohibited the use of Styrofoam ware. Click here to view the list of single-use bag and Styrofoam foam food ware bans in the Bay Area.
Ordinances that prohibit the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam not only limit the number of animals that are entangled, suffocated, and poisoned each year due to ocean litter but also improve water quality. Last year, Bay Area cities identified over 200 locations along creeks and Bay shorelines that have toxic levels of trash. Because plastic bags and Styrofoam are two of the most commonly littered objects, we can limit the amount of trash in our waterways by pursuing policies that ban these substances.
There is still a lot of work to be done – many jurisdictions are considering these issues but have yet to pass any legislation on the matter. West Contra Costa County and Sonoma County are in the process of considering a ban on plastic bags but have yet to move forward with an ordinance. Similarly, Menlo Park, Milpitas, City of San Mateo, and San Rafael are all evaluating the effects of a potential polystyrene ban on local businesses as well as the environment. If you live in these areas, or any others that have yet to pass an ordinance, we encourage you to take action and advocate for regulations in order to improve the health of the Bay.
- Jay Bhayani, Policy Volunteer