Long Beach, along with many other coastal Southern California cities, is taking a proactive role in limiting the use of Styrofoam and single-use plastics like straws. The goal is the curb pollution around the city in our parks, beaches, and waterways.
City Leaders Pass the Styrofoam Ban
Back in April Long Beach leaders approved a ban on single-use food and beverage containers that are made from polystyrene, which most people know as Styrofoam. The ban will be phased in over the course of 18 months.
During the first phase, the containers will be banned at all city facilities and city-permitted events, and those who have multi-year permits will have up to a year to comply. During the second phase, within 9 months, food providers with seating for 101 or more people (including franchises) must comply. Finally, in the third phase after 18 months, food providers with less than 100 seats must comply.
Also included in the ban during the third stage will be polystyrene ice chests, bean bags, and craft materials. There are provisions for limiting the use of plastics in other areas of restaurant service as well. For example, utensils and straws for to-go orders will only be supplied if a customer requests them.
Recyclable Materials are Good for Business
Some local businesses have taken initiative even before the ban to reduce their use of plastics and Styrofoam and have noticed really positive feedback from their customers. Restaurateur Eric Johnson, whose restaurants include the Auld Dubliner, Legends, Boathouse on the Bay, O’Malley’s, Patty’s Place, and K.C. Branaghan’s has moved his establishments away from Styrofoam for the past five years. Go into Auld Dubliner today and your cocktail will even be served with a bamboo straw.
This is certainly a smart move for Long Beach because according to research these food packaging containers, made up of mostly expanded polystyrene, are some of the main sources of long-lasting litter and pollution because the product does not break down. Instead, it breaks up into little pieces and ends up in the parks, beaches, waterways, and ultimately get eaten by birds and marine wildlife.
Skip the Straw if You Can
You might notice that many local restaurants are not giving straws with every drink, and offering them upon request only. If you want to limit your consumption of single-use plastics that end up polluting our local wildlife, this is a very easy step you can take. When you’re at a restaurant just get in the habit of making “no straw” part of your drink order. If you really like using a straw to drink from, look into purchasing a reusable glass or metal straw and just carry it with you.
Another idea is to carry around a reusable cup for when you order coffee or smoothies. Most places, especially locally owned Long Beach spots will be more than happy to fill your reusable container rather than use a brand new plastic cup that will just get tossed out once you’re done.
Being even just a little more conscious about single-use plastic can go a long way. The polystyrene ban is a great start, and if we as a community all do our own part, we will have an impact on keeping our beaches and parks clean and healthy for many generations to come.