Los Angeles took its largest step yet towards becoming a zero-waste city

In December 2022, LA city joined over 120 Californian cities in banning polystyrene foam

For the past few months, my team and I have been campaigning to get the city of Los Angeles to ban one of the worst forms of single use plastics: polystyrene foam. In December 2022, they voted unanimously to do so. 

Although we’ve all known for years that foam is especially harmful to our environment, it took some organizing to make this happen. Plastic companies argued it would be bad for business, but we know there are a lot of restaurants and retailers that are just as sick of plastic waste as we are – so we visited small businesses and restaurants, and signed on 50 to our letter of support. To show the City Council widespread support from the community, we gathered thousands of petition signatures, hosted a beach clean up with students from UCLA and the University of Southern California, and generated phone calls to city council members’ offices.

CALPIRG students clean up Venice Beach
Nina Dang | TPIN
CALPIRG students clean up Venice Beach

We held lobby days, spoke at City Council meetings, and partnered with community groups—all to make sure our city’s leadership heard the public’s voice loud and clear on this one. But without the backing of our members across the state, they wouldn’t have given us the time of day.

Clara Castronovo | TPIN
Virtual lobby meeting with the office of City Councilmember John Lee

Even though all the city council members present voted in favor of the ban, it’s not like it was a given that it would pass. Other Californian cities have had foam bans on the books for years (Berkeley passed the nation’s first polystyrene food ware ban in 1988), but the opposition has remained strong in Los Angeles because of its size and influence. Thanks to the dedication of activists, elected officials, and community members, LA has finally joined over 120 cities in California who have banned foam food ware. 

As one of the biggest and most influential cities in the country—and now the second-largest one to ban polystyrene foam—the impact of this policy in LA is likely to reverberate far beyond our state. 

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Nina Dang

Campaign Associate, CALPIRG

Nina works on CALPIRG’s Beyond Plastic campaign, building public support and visibility to move California away from single-use plastics. Nina recently moved to Los Angeles and is getting to know the city one restaurant a time.

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