A plastic ban in Laguna Beach, California, prohibiting single-use plastic food packaging and cutlery takes effect July 15.
The ban was unanimously approved by the city council in March as part of its Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan, intended to help mitigate visitor impacts on the city.
Single-use plastic food ware items will be prohibited from all Laguna Beach trails, parks, and beaches. Food and drink vendors will be forbidden from distributing single-use, takeaway plastic or polystyrene food packaging items, which includes bioplastics. The ban includes the use of plastic beverage straws, plastic stirrers, plastic cutlery, and plastic take-out bags.
“The city has a good track record in working with local restaurants and businesses to implement previous programs to eliminate pollution, such as single-use plastic grocery bags,” Laguna Beach spokesperson Cassie Walder told The Epoch Times.
“Staff has contacted the majority of our local establishments, and they understand the value of maintaining a clean ocean environment and have been cooperative with prior efforts to eliminate litter.”
Restaurants have access to a business toolkit that aims to help them more easily eliminate plastic package.
In exchange for typical single-use items, Laguna Beach is recommending that restaurants employ reusable materials whenever possible, or non-plastic alternatives such as materials made from paper, sugar cane, and bamboo. However, they should only be provided at a customer’s request, the city said.
“As plastic single-use food ware items may be discarded as litter anywhere in town, they may end up in streets and gutters which convey pollutants to the ocean through the storm drain system,” Walder said.
According to the city, the new ordinance supports its goal of diverting 95 percent of waste citywide from the landfill by 2030 and to maintain the health and safety of its beaches.
“Plastic litter represents a significant source of ocean pollution,” Walder said. “The Legislative Analyst for California Assembly Bill 1884 determined that plastics comprise an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of all floating debris.”
Although the ban is fairly straightforward, food and beverage vendors may be able to receive a one-year exemption from the rule if they’re able to show that it would cause undue hardship on the business.
The entire Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan, which the plastic ban is a part of, is set to cost $2 million. It will be entirely funded by visitors through the city’s parking and transient occupancy tax revenues.
Other parts of the plan that take effect on July 15 include the ban on feeding wild birds in city parks, a large-shade-structure ban on beaches to preserve sight lines, and a ban on storing bicycles on Main Beach and at Heisler Park. The city will expand its prohibition of personal property in public areas, and noncoastal community parks will close at 10 p.m.