Orinda plans to ban Styrofoam containers

Will Kreznick

ORINDA — Orinda will become the latest city in Contra Costa County to ban food and drink containers made of polystyrenes such as Styrofoam. The aim? Protect the environment. Polystyrene is not biodegradable, and those carryout cups and containers can easily break into small pieces and often end up in […]

ORINDA — Orinda will become the latest city in Contra Costa County to ban food and drink containers made of polystyrenes such as Styrofoam.

The aim? Protect the environment.

Polystyrene is not biodegradable, and those carryout cups and containers can easily break into small pieces and often end up in the ocean, injuring or killing wildlife.

“A lot of it is goodwill on the part of restaurants,” Orinda Mayor Amy Worth told the City Council on June 1, when the council considered a possible ordinance and how it might be enforced and whether businesses will comply.

Most Contra Costa County cities already ban the use of polystyrene in food and beverage containers, including Concord, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Martinez, Pinole, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Pablo and Walnut Creek.

In September 2019, county supervisors prohibited fast-food or take-out services, food trucks and other businesses that sell food or beverages, as well as county facilities such as jails and health centers, from using products made from polystyrene.

Exemptions, however, include prepackaged foods and reusable coolers.

Orinda’s ordinance would be modeled on the county’s rules, which say that penalities could include “administrative fines, infraction citations and any other remedy allowed by law.” The amount of any potential fines has not been decided.

Orinda City Manager David Biggs told the council that he expected most people who violate the restrictions likely would be let off with a warning unless the business is a repeat offender.

Orinda’s proposal got unanimous support from the council.

The Orinda ordinance likely will be up for adoption in July, according to city officials.

The ordinance would kick in six months after the council approved it, allowing restaurants and vendors to adjust to the new regulations.

City officials also are recommending businesses only provide plastic eating utensils when a customer asks.

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