Santa Barbara passes bans on plastic straws, Styrofoam containers

Posted at 10:16 PM, Jul 17, 2018

The City of Santa Barbara will soon restrict the use of plastic straws, stirrers, knives, forks and spoons as well as Styrofoam cups and food containers.

The city council during Tuesday’s meeting approved two ordinances – one for single-use plastic products, the other for expanded polystyrene foam food/drink containers.

Starting next year, it will be illegal for any bar, restaurant, caterer or mobile food vendor to give plastic drinking straws to any person. Alternatives such as paper, sugar cane, or bamboo straws would be OK to provide but only upon request.

As for plastic cutlery and stirrers, they won’t be allowed for dine-in or to-go meals or drinks — unless the business first asks if it’s OK and the customer says yes.

It will also be illegal for any food provider within the city to give or sell food in any disposable container made from expanded polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam. Biodegradable, compostable or recyclable cups, plates, bowls, trays, clamshells, etc. will have to be used instead.

The city says those who prove this switch to present a hardship can apply for an exemption. Foods prepared or packaged outside the city and sold inside the city will also be exempt. It will also be lawful to provide plastic straws to people with disabilities who need them.

City staff listed environmental effects as reasons for passing both ordinances, which will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

San Luis Obispo and other local communities have passed similar restrictions in the recent past.