Will San Jose Stand against Styrofoam?

If you’ve seen our ban map recently, you’ll know that Bay Area cities continue to make progress toward a plastic bag and Styrofoam free Bay Area.  We hope that another city will join this growing list later this month, and it’s not just any city.

Styrofoam in a San Jose storm drain.
Styrofoam does not biodegrade; instead, it accumulates in storm drains, pollutes creeks, and threatens wildlife. Photo by Paul Ledesma.

San Jose, the largest city in the Bay Area and third largest in California, is voting on a Styrofoam food ware ban on August 27th.  After two and a half years of research, deliberation, and community outreach, the city is finally poised to be the 31st city in the region to ban this polluting and unsustainable material.  While the city is coming late to the game, they are still proving to be a leader in protecting Bay Area creeks and rivers from plastic pollution.  City staff have gone above and beyond other cities to craft a policy that takes the needs of their diverse business community into account and provide restaurants with information about alternative products, prices, and where to buy them.  The community is ready for this transition – it’s now up to the council to make it happen.

The decision can’t come soon enough, as San Jose waterways continue to suffer from trash.  Cities are also less than a year away from a July 2014 deadline to reduce trash in their creeks and stormwater system by 40 percent.  Styrofoam is a ubiquitous pollutant in our waterways, and much of this material is from take-out food ware.  This ordinance is a necessary step toward a trash-free watershed and Bay.  Onward and upward, San Jose!