San Diego is taking major strides in becoming a waste free society this summer. Starting July 1st, residents living in single-family homes are able to recycle polystyrene food and beverage containers.
“After several years of hard work and analysis, City residents are finally able to conveniently recycle Styrofoam materials. This action will not only improve our local environment but also prolong the life of the Miramar Landfill. I applaud the Mayor and ESD staff for making this vision a reality,” said City Councilmember Scott Sherman, a member of the Council’s Environment Committee.
Some California cities have taken the opposite route by banning polystyrene products. With this approach, small businesses suffer and waste doesn’t improve. San Diego is taking a business-friendly approach by saving restaurant owners and other businesses a lot of money. Alternative products to polystyrene are four times more expensive, which can make or break these businesses. They are also encouraging better habits by giving these families recycling options for their polystyrene products.
Chris Duggan at the California Restaurant Association commended San Diego’s decision to recycle these products. In response to this proposal, Duggan promises that local restaurants will help educate residents that they can now start recycling these containers.
“I always say it keeps our hot foods hot and our cold foods cold,” Duggan said of polystyrene.
Sophie Barnost, a chamber policy coordinator said, “We believe recycling expanded polystyrene food containers is a sensible alternative to an outright ban.”
At first, San Diego was unsure about the recycling of polystyrene food containers because the overall cost would add up to $300,000. However, the cost has been reduced to $90,000 by sending the polystyrene to a secondary processor that will then recycle and sort the foam.
“By expanding what we’re able to recycle, we’re moving in the right direction as we try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much of the trash we collect every day as we can,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “The City of San Diego continues to be an environmental leader with a ‘Zero Waste’ plan that is among the most aggressive in the country. We’re creating a cleaner San Diego and serving as a model for other cities to follow.”
Allowing single-family residents to recycle their polystyrene foam will help the city meet their zero waste plan that was established in 2015. “The plan calls for a 75 percent diversion rate by 2020, a 90 percent diversion rate by 2035 and 100 percent diversion by 2040.”