The Goleta City Council voted unanimously at last night’s September 6, 2022, City Council meeting to pass one of the most comprehensive plastic pollution reduction policies in the country, based on science and best practices in waste reduction. The adopted ordinance, entitled Plastic Waste Reduction Regulations to Address Single-Use Plastics and Polystyrene, prohibits the sale and distribution of certain single-use plastic and polystyrene disposable products in the community, as well as Mylar balloons, to reduce the prevalence of plastic pollution in Goleta’s neighborhoods, waterways, and beaches.
“We have the opportunity to be environmental leaders and take action on addressing the plastic pollution problem,” Mayor Paula Perotte said. “Goleta residents value clean neighborhoods, beaches, and open space. These are key reasons why we live here. Getting rid of single-use plastics makes sense and is the right thing to do for our coastal community. By taking local action to stop plastic pollution at the source, so it doesn’t reach our beaches and the ocean, our City leadership shows our commitment to keeping our beaches clean and healthy for our families and future generations.”
The newly adopted ordinance updates Goleta’s Municipal Code to prohibit single-use plastic straws, utensils, and stirrers. This is paired with an upon-request policy for non-plastic disposable items. Only straws and utensils made from non-plastic materials, such as wood, metal, bamboo, fiber, and glass, are allowed. Bioplastics, PLA plastics, and #7 plastics are NOT allowed. The ordinance also comprehensively addresses polystyrene pollution to ban polystyrene egg cartons, drinkware, foodware, and trays, as well as polystyrene packing materials, such as foam peanuts.
In addition, the ordinance will also prohibit the sale and distribution of Mylar balloons and prohibit the release of balloons in the City to prevent power outages, as well as reduce marine debris and impacts to wildlife.
The ordinance prohibits food service vendors from providing single-use plastic disposable foodware accessories to consumers. It requires single-use foodware accessories to be made of non-plastic and non-polystyrene materials. Additionally, it requires reusable foodware for dining on-premises to limit waste from single-use items. The ordinance also prohibits the use, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic bottles at City facilities.
A grace period is available for businesses to exhaust their existing supply of plastic straws and utensils, polystyrene products, and Mylar balloons and procure alternatives by June 1, 2023. Local businesses may apply for extensions for compliance for up to 6 months after the implementation date. The City will undertake a public education and outreach campaign to spread awareness of the regulations and the importance of reducing plastics. A list of alternatives and more information on plastic pollution will be available via a guide on the City’s website at www.cityofgoleta.org/PlasticFreeGoleta.
Protecting the environment is one of Goleta’s core values. The ordinance is part of the City’s Plastic Free Goleta campaign to eliminate the use of a variety of single-use plastic items to protect our environment and the oceans. Plastic straws and utensils of all shapes, sizes, and colors are popping up everywhere, from cocktails to delivery food to unasked-for glasses of water. Collectively, Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to fill up 125 school buses each day and wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times. Because they’re not recyclable, most polystyrene and single-use plastic utensils end up in landfills. The rest wind up polluting the environment and posing a threat to aquatic life. In fact, recent studies show that half of all sea turtles and nearly all seabirds have eaten plastic – and by 2050, it’s expected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.
Thank you for doing your part for Goleta and the environment. If you have any questions, please contact our Sustainability Manager Dana Murray at email@example.com or (805) 961-7547. For more information on the City’s Sustainability Program, go to http://www.cityofgoleta.org/sustainability.