Polystyrene broken down on beach

Along with bird footprints, broken down polystyrene litters the sand in Manhattan Beach just north of the pier on Dec. 18, 2018. (File photo by Jacquelyne May)

Hermosa Beach expanded its ban on polystyrene products to include food trays, packing materials and Mylar balloons with an unanimous vote at the Nov. 12 Hermosa Beach City Council meeting.

Hermosa Beach is following the lead of Manhattan Beach, which banned polystyrene meat trays in March, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Hermosa's ban will take effect on June 30, 2020.

“These materials for the most part are unable to be recycled and simultaneously among the most favored items of litter bugs,” said Environment Programs Manager Douglas Krauss. “Straws, packing peanuts, plastic utensils and balloons are among the most commonly found items on beach cleanups, actually around the world. Even when these materials are disposed of correctly, they have a tendency to escape the waste disposal process and end up on the streets and then consequently the oceans.”

The new ordinance prohibits the distribution and sale of polystyrene meat, fish and produce trays, and coolers; prohibits the use, distribution and sale of polystyrene packing materials; and prohibits the use and distribution of single-use plastic products including plastic beverage straws, plastic stirrers and utensils, while implementing an “upon request” policy for non-plastic single-use straws, stirrers and utensils.

The sale and distribution of foil, metalized or Mylar balloons will be prohibited by the ordinance, as well as the use or distribution of the balloon on public property, including beaches and parks.

Also, latex balloons will be prohibited for use or distribution at city functions or city-sponsored events. The release of the latex balloons will be prohibited anywhere within city limits.

The city is developing a education and outreach campaign for restaurant and business owners, but the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce expressed its concern about the impact on businesses.

Chamber co-chair Carolyn Petty said they would recommend “incentive-based programs” as an alternative.

“It’s not business friendly when you impose mandates,” Petty said.

Councilmember Jeff Duclos said there was push-back in 2012 when the city banned polystyrene food service ware. Then in 2015, the city banned the use of plastic carryout bags and imposed a charge for purchasing bags.

Duclos said “incentives do not work.”

“When we look around today you wouldn't know... what was all the fuss about,” Duclos said.

Krauss said the cost differential between plastic and newer alternatives is decreasing because they are becoming more readily available.

Krauss added that businesses can request an extension of the deadline if “they show undue hardship.”

Manhattan Beach has been in stages implementing changes in their policies and Redondo Beach is in the process, according to Krauss, which will help create a “united front” in the South Bay.

“I've been in talks with them for awhile,” said Krauss about Manhattan Beach. “They've done a very god job of implementing it. They have very few requests for extension, very few complaints, which with a good outreach campaign can certainly be done.”

Mayor Stacey Armato added, “I'm heartened that we are going to work closely with our businesses, not against them but with them and help guide them through this process.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

Load comments