New City and County Legislative Efforts on Polystyrene

August 18, 2017

Over 100 Cities and Counties throughout California have passed some form of restriction on the use of polystyrene (commonly referred to as “Styrofoam”) products over the last several decades. A new phase of local legislation on polystyrene with more restrictive measures is cropping up throughout the state. While the majority of these measures relate to a ban of polystyrene in food service utilization only, there are new potential impacts on the life sciences and healthcare industries.

In 2016, San Francisco passed the most restrictive measure in the nation. Beyond the use of products specific to the food industry, San Francisco included bans on its use in numerous other contexts, including the utilization of shipping containers and coolers. During the drafting of the language, CLSA worked with County staff and our member companies to assure a waiver arrangement with the San Francisco Department of the Environment for medical shipping to the newly restrictive language. As other Cities around the state have begun considering similar legislation, CLSA has provided information to those localities about the medical waiver example in San Francisco.

State legislation in the form of SB 705 was introduced this year to create a statewide standard, but it was rejected by the state Senate 15-19 in May. The Los Angeles Times has spoken out several times in favor of banning polystyrene. While the Times has advocated for a statewide option rather than a patchwork of local laws, they have had no qualms in also pushing for Southern California Cities and Counties to move forward with their own legislation. As such, the County of Los Angeles began doing just that with a resolution on Aug. 1 that instructs County staff to create more restrictive legislation and come back to the Board of Supervisors in 180 days. Numerous other Southern California localities are also pursuing such legislation.

CLSA will continue to monitor these local proposals and how they might impact our life sciences companies. For more information, please contact Reese Isbell, CLSA’s Director of Local Government and Community Relations (