California’s Two Largest Cities Ban Plastic Foam on Same Day - Oceana USA

California’s Two Largest Cities Ban Plastic Foam on Same Day

Oceana Applauds Los Angeles, San Diego for Protecting Oceans, Californians From Harmful Plastic

Press Release Date: December 6, 2022

Location: Los Angeles


Melissa Morris, Melissa Valliant | email:, | tel: Melissa Morris, Melissa Valliant

Today, the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego both voted to ban expanded polystyrene, the plastic foam that is often used to produce single-use cups, plates, and other foodware. Under both cities’ new laws, retailers and restaurants will be prohibited from distributing or selling plastic-foam foodware and other expanded polystyrene products. These two city council moves come on the heels of California state lawmakers passing Senate Bill 54, the strongest plastic source reduction policy in the nation.

“Cities are leading the fight against single-use plastic in California. Los Angeles and San Diego know there’s no time to waste when plastic production is projected to exponentially grow over the next few decades, so they’re carrying the torch,” said Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s plastics campaign director. “As the two largest cities in California, Los Angeles and San Diego have the power to put a notable dent in the state’s plastic footprint while sending a clear message to the rest of the country. Following the passage of groundbreaking state legislation earlier this year, California’s cities are not sitting back; instead, they are prioritizing local policies that strengthen the fight against single-use plastic.”  

Because of its brittle texture, expanded polystyrene easily breaks up into tiny pieces that quickly disperse into the environment and can be mistaken for food by animals. Styrene — the major building block of polystyrene that’s considered “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization — has been found to leach out of polystyrene containers at all temperatures, posing a threat to human health.

In addition to the polystyrene policy, the Los Angeles City Council expanded the city’s single-use plastic bag ban and instructed all city departments to develop zero-waste plans for city buildings and events. The San Diego City Council also made utensils and straws available to customers by request only.

An Oceana poll found that the vast majority of Californians are supportive of reducing single-use plastic. According to the survey, 86% of California voters support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic. Additionally, 91% of registered California voters said they are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans.

“Reusable LA is thrilled to see Los Angeles move forward after a decade of working on these ordinances,” said Alison Waliszewski and Emily Parker, co-chairs of Reusable LA. “The City Council has demonstrated incredible leadership by prioritizing community health in banning toxic expanded polystyrene. We applaud their commitment to fixing loopholes in the single-use plastic-bag ban that allowed for the sale and use of thicker single-use plastic bags and we’re especially glad to see Los Angeles commit to a culture shift towards a zero-waste circular economy by its requirement for zero-waste plans in all city facilities and events.”

In June of this year, California state lawmakers passed SB 54, the first state law to mandate source reduction of all single-use plastic packaging and foodware, from detergent bottles and bubble wrap to cups and utensils. The law requires producers to slash their single-use plastic packaging and foodware by at least 25% by 2032 and implement the first reuse and refill mandates in the nation.

Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey and more. It’s also one of the greatest contributors to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit to learn more.