STATEMENT: Los Angeles to ditch foam and other single-use plastics

Media Contacts

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council approved several ordinances Tuesday that aim to reduce plastic waste in the city. The ordinances will do the following:

  • Prohibit the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene products, commonly called StyrofoamTM 
  • Expand the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags to restaurants and retail stores.
  • Require all city-run events and facilities, such as the Los Angeles Zoo to implement policies to reduce waste to zero. This includes a ban on single-use plastic foodware and a requirement to donate and compost surplus food. 

Los Angeles County creates nearly 30 million tons of waste each year, with plastic items the greatest contributors. According to a state Senate analysis, California recycles less than 15% of its single-use plastic. The rest ends up in landfills, burned in incinerators or in the environment. Plastic breaks down in the environment and microplastics have been found in every corner of the globe, as well as in human bodies, potentially hurting people’s health.

With today’s vote, Los Angeles becomes the biggest city in the state to restrict plastic foam and other single-use plastics, joining more than 100 cities that have already taken similar action. 

In response, CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom and CALPIRG Students Board Chair Clara Castronovo issued the following statements 

“Every day, Californians throw away millions of single-use plastic containers, bags, foodware and plastic packaging. Because plastics can take hundreds of years to fully degrade and most can’t be recycled, nearly all of that plastic waste is still out there, clogging landfills and polluting our oceans and drinking water,” said Engstrom. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years. That’s why we need to stop using plastic items we can easily replace with sustainable alternatives, and that’s exactly what the city of Los Angeles is doing. With today’s vote, the city council is sending a clear message that the key to solving our plastic waste crisis is using less plastic in the first place.”

“Young people are relying on the action that we take now to stop the growing plastic crisis. We want a future with a healthy environment and clean water and air,” said Castronovo. “Talking to students on campus, we have seen widespread support for action to move beyond plastics. So, it’s really exciting to see Los Angeles take this big step forward to protect our environment and keep our city healthy by phasing out polystyrene!”