San Diego Mayor Limits City’s Use of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles, Plastic Foam Products

May 18, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Protecting Habitats

San Diego Coastkeeper applauds the action, which stems from the organization’s 2009 proposalSAN DIEGO, CA-May 18, 2011- Today San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office and the Environmental Services Division announced a series of administrative regulations to limit the City’s purchase of single-use plastic water bottles and plastic foam products (often inappropriately referred to as Styrofoam™). San Diego Coastkeeper, the region’s largest environmental organization protecting inland and coastal waters, applauds the mayor’s action, which stems from the organization’s 2009 proposal urging the City Council to take the steps. The new guidelines, announced today to the San Diego City Council Natural Resources and Culture Committee (NRC) and effective on January 1, 2012, will reduce the City’s environmental impacts, potentially save money, reinforce confidence in the city’s municipal water system and set a precedent for other cities in the region.

The item was brought to the Committee after a December 2010 request from former Chair Donna Frye.  Under the strong mayor-strong council form of government, the administrative regulation does not need Council approval.  However, showing support for the ideas within the regulation, the NRC requested that the Mayor’s office report on the implementation of these policies at the November 16 NRC meeting.

“This will show great leadership to the residents of San Diego,” said City Council Member David Alvarez, who chairs NRC. He also noted that the City is the first in San Diego County to take these initial steps.
Specifically but not inclusively, the Mayor’s administrative regulation will:

  • Prohibit the purchase of single-use water bottles and water bottle dispensers with City funds, with the exception of facilities that do not have access to safe tap water to drink
  • Prohibit the purchase of plastic foam food service ware with City funds (referred to as expanded polystyrene, or EPS)
  • Develop standard language for bids that expresses the City’s commitment to eliminating plastic foam in packing materials, using alternative recyclable packing materials when available and/or vendor take back of the packing materials. This includes working with current vendors to reduce plastic foam use.
  • Revise City permit applications; including those for special events, parks and recreation facilities, and water reservoirs and lakes, to prohibit the use of plastic foam food service ware.

“We commend Mayor Sanders for demonstrating environmental leadership and fiscal responsibility with his policy limiting the City’s purchase of single-use plastic water bottles and plastic foam products,” said Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper’s education and marine debris manager. “We hope the door will remain open to expand the restriction of plastic foam use beyond City events and that other cities will follow the Mayor’s lead and take similar action.”

The City of San Diego joins 48 California cities that have already committed to reducing plastic foam for environmental reasons and 28 jurisdictions that have limited bottled water purchases to reduce expenses and support public water systems.

“San Francisco canceled its bottled water contracts and saved half a million dollars a year,” said John Stewart, national campaign organizer with Corporate Accountability International. “San Diego will join the ranks of 1,200 cities and five states nationwide that have taken similar steps, saving millions of dollars.”

This step by Mayor Sanders comes on the heels of the statewide Senate Bill 568, which would prohibit the distribution and use of plastic foam containers by food vendors. Currently, the senate floor expects the bill sometime next week. Support organizers identified Senator Juan Vargas as a swing vote on the matter and ask that he take this action as a sign that his constituents are calling for reduced litter and debris.

San Diego Coastkeeper first proposed restricting bottled water and plastic foam at City facilities and events to former City Councilmember Donna Frye in late 2009. Coastkeeper cited beach cleanup data from across the county, which indicates a growing problem of plastic water bottles, plastic bottle caps and pieces of plastic foam littering the environment. In 2010 alone, volunteers removed more than 25,000 pieces of plastic foam, which is lightweight, floats and easily breaks into small pieces making it a challenge for removal from storm drains and the environment.

San Diego Coastkeeper’s website (http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org) hosts more information about beach cleanup data in San Diego County and the harmful effects of marine debris on the environmental, marine mammals and humans.

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San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit them online for more information: http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

Signs of the Tide, sponsored by SDG&E Smart Meter and Cook & Schmid, are community events designed to educate, engage and empower participants in issues relating to the health of San Diego’s coastal waters. The meetings rotate locations throughout San Diego. All events are free, open to the community and include light snacks and beverages.

For more information about Signs of the Tide, visit Coastkeeper’s website at www.sdcoastkeeper.org.
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Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit us online at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.