Culver City moves closer to Having no more polystyrene

Culver City took another step toward joining other California cities and counties that have outlawed polystyrene at its Dec. 13 meeting.

The City Council directed the city’s staff to craft an ordinance that would effectively ban the sale of takeout containers, ice chests, trays, bowls lidded containers and flatware. The ordinance would apply to all local food providers.

In addition, several suggestions that Mayor Jim Clarke last month made regarding anti-littering measures and Ballona Creek waste removal are also on the table.

Environmental nonprofit Ballona Creek Renaissance, whose work in trying to rid the creek of pollutants has been hailed by the entire council, has led the push to ban Styrofoam.

The organization, not known for weighing in on local legislation, has been relentless in its efforts to lobby city officials about a ban for virtually the entirety of 2016.

A ban on polystyrene appears to have widespread appeal to Culver City residents. A recent Survey Monkey poll found that almost 83% of over 660 residents who answered a survey favored a ban.

At an Aug. 8 council meeting, resident David Coles made an argument that environmental groups such as the Surfrider Foundation and Heal the Bay have made regarding the dangers of polystyrene.

“Fish, turtles, birds and other wildlife are imperiled by Styrofoam when they confuse it for food and ingest it. What’s more, there are many more alternatives that are environmentally benign,” said Coles.

Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells, who led the charge as a private citizen before she was elected to convince Culver City leaders to ban plastic bags after years of previous councils being silent on the matter, was thrilled that the council agreed to move toward a creating an ordinance ban polystyrene products.

“When the Ballona Creek Renaissance came forward with this proposal a year ago, I was very enthusiastic then, and am even more so tonight,” she told the audience. “When we passed the ban on single use plastic bags in 2012, I said that polystyrene was next.

“ So I’ve been waiting for this day for a long while.”

Ballona Creek Renaissance is asking that the city use the 2014 Manhattan Beach polystyrene ordinance as a blueprint, which Surfrider endorsed.

“We’re not a political group but we decided that we need to do more than just pick up trash around the creek,” explained Ballona Creek Renaissance Vice President Sandrine Cassidy.

Culver City High School Ballona Renaissance Club president Van Barth says in a group release that although efforts are being made to educate the public about the problem of trash getting into the creek “litter is inevitable, and polystyrene is the worst of it, and that’s why it is important to ban it in the first place.”

The American Chemistry Council, which also opposed Culver City ‘s plastic bag ban as well as the 2014 statewide plastic ban, sent a letter to the council asking that they reconsider an ordinance.

The group claims that “a ban would negatively impact businesses as products made from alternative materials are more expensive than polystyrene and in some cases do not function as well as polystyrene for food handling purposes.”

The council’s actions come a month after Culver City voters overwhelmingly passed a local stormwater ballot measure, CW, on Nov. 8.

Sahli-Wells said what the council had done was a more than just a move to ban polystyrene. “It’s a public health measure. It’s CPR for Ballona Creek,” she said.

If the city decides to ban polystyrene next year, it would become the 100th city/county in California to do so.

Just in time for Culver City’s centennial.


Gary Walker contributed to this story.