Board of supervisors approve countywide ban on polystyrene foam products

By Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, October 5, 2021


On Sept. 28 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of disposable polystyrene foam food containers and other products containing polystyrene foam.

The board’s unanimous decision aligns with the Climate Action and Resiliency segment of the Sonoma County Strategic Plan by minimizing the amount of toxic materials that escape into the environment and local waterways and prioritizing more environmentally friendly options.

The ordinance was introduced during an Aug. 24 board of supervisors meeting as part of a zero waste resolution to promote waste reduction, reuse and recovery.

The new county ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

“It is past time to get non-compostable and non-recyclable single-use Styrofoam products out of our waste stream in Sonoma County,” Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “While this ordinance benefits all residents of Sonoma County, we also understand that some businesses and individuals may be significantly impacted. That’s why we’re expecting a robust education campaign in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that information and resources are widely shared, especially with residents most in need.”

To get the word out about the new ordinance Zero Waste Sonoma, in coordination with the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works, will conduct community engagement sessions in both English and Spanish to identify entities that will need to comply with the policy.

They’ll also provide technical support to businesses and restaurants that may need assistance getting environmentally friendly food container products.

According to a county press release, outreach is expected to include meetings with local chambers of commerce, meetings with multiple jurisdiction climate groups and community stakeholder groups.

The county and Zero West Sonoma will also send out informational letters to those affected by the ordinance, create implementation plans for jurisdictions and field questions from businesses.

“Today marks the culmination of tireless effort over many years to encourage on a voluntary basis the elimination of all Styrofoam packaging in Sonoma County,” Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, who represents Sonoma County on the board of directors of Zero Waste Sonoma, said in a statement. “Now we have a framework for education and compliance that will maximize the operating life of our landfills, reduce the economic and environmental costs of waste management for businesses and residents, and protect public health while being good stewards of our waterways and wildlife.”

The county’s existing ordinance that bans the use of polystyrene food packaging products on county-owned or leased property will be merged into the new county ordinance.

The ordinance includes a ban on certain retail sales such as certain coolers, ice chests, pool toys, beach toys, packing peanuts and other packaging materials in addition to food service products.

The cities of Cloverdale, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and the towns of Windsor and Sonoma have already approved similar retail sales such as certain coolers, ice chests, pool toys, beach toys, packing peanuts and other packaging materials in addition to food service products.

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