Home » The prohibition of polystyrene in San Diego imposes additional expenses on small enterprises.

The prohibition of polystyrene in San Diego imposes additional expenses on small enterprises.

by Robert
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The polystyrene ban went into effect for small businesses in San Diego in April. Polystyrene is a synthetic polymer, sometimes colloquially called Styrofoam, especially in the US.

The move means higher costs for small businesses in this California community.

“Styrofoam is one of the largest sources of trash in the ocean, costing state and loczal governments millions of dollars a year to collect from beaches, roadsides and storms,” ​​writes Mariel Garza for the Los Angeles Times.

Small businesses that make less than $500,000 a year received a short annual exemption. But now the cost of waste removal falls on the businesses that can least afford it.

A 2013 study by the American Chemistry Council found that replacing Styrofoam food containers and cups with another alternative represents at least a 94% increase in costs for businesses. The American Chemistry Council serves as a trade association promoting the interests of the American chemical industry. This includes companies that currently manufacture and sell polystyrene.


Small businesses, especially in the food industry, prefer polystyrene for food containers. The product remains a cheap and durable option. The insulating properties of polystyrene also keep food and drinks warm.

Preferred alternative materials recommended by San Diego include ceramic, glass, plastic, and paper. The city recommends these materials for plates, cups, bowls, tipping containers, and trays. The city also recommends aluminum for trays, collapsible containers, and packaging.

San Diego becomes one of more than 130 other California communities to ban Styrofoam food containers and other Styrofoam products. The Plastics Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act mandates a statewide ban on these materials by 2025 unless recycling rates reach 25%.

Other states that have already banned Styrofoam include Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Washington DC, and Colorado. States facing bans include Washington, Delaware, and most of Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Although more expensive, some small businesses still support this change.

“If something happens to fly into the ocean, I’d rather it be a piece of paper than a piece of Styrofoam that’s going to be there for the next 3,000 years,” Bobby Kokinda, owner of Ocean Beach Meat Company, told KPBS.

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