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San Francisco Bans Polystyrene Foam

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© Penny Harmeyer

Great news from the west coast! Last week, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ban on the sale of polystyrene foam. Foam packing, cups and mooring buoys will be prohibited starting January 1, 2017. This is a major win for the health of our ocean and marine life!

As you may already know, the problems associated with expanded polystyrene (foam) products is that they often fragment into small pieces once in the ocean, where fish, sea turtles or seabirds can mistakenly eat the tiny plastic bits. Nearly 425,000 foam cups, plates and food containers were removed from beaches by volunteers during the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup alone. And even more astounding are the more than 950,000 pieces of foam volunteers found on beaches around the globe during the 2015 Cleanup.

The ban in San Francisco is another step towards trash free seas! We continue to see dirty beaches and debris floating on the ocean’s surface. That’s why my colleagues and I are committed to continuing to work to stop the flow of trash at the source, before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins or endanger sea turtles, or ruin our beaches and depress our local economies.

Will you help to stop the flow of trash into the ocean? I have two quick ways that you can join us to help keep beaches and the ocean free of debris.

  1. Join a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash free. Head out to your favorite beach and use Ocean Conservancy’s brand-new app to easily record each item of trash you collect. Then share your effort with family and friends.
  2. Sign up to cleanup this September! For nearly three decades, volunteers with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup® have picked up everything imaginable along the world’s shorelines: cigarette butts, food wrappers, abandoned fishing gear and even automobiles and kitchen appliances. Join us this September!

I applaud the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors for taking bold action to stem the tide of foam polluting our beaches and waterways. And, I applaud the many volunteers who come out daily, weekly or yearly to keep our beaches trash free. I hope to see you at a Cleanup in the near future!

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