Industry News

Ventura County Star    August 5. 2021

Camarillo restaurants will be prohibited from distributing food packaged in expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, beginning Jan. 1.

The Camarillo City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on July 28 amending municipal code to regulate the use of plastic foam in the city as a way to lessen the impact of non-biodegradable material on the environment.

According to the ordinance, restaurants, city contractors and other food providers can’t serve food or beverages in or provide customers with plastic foam containers. However, food packaged outside of Camarillo is exempt from the ban.

Camarillo isn’t the first city in Ventura County to prohibit Styrofoam products. Thousand Oaks, Ojai and Ventura have passed similar ordinances. The Port Hueneme City Council will also discuss an expanded polystyrene ban at their next meeting in September.

Camarillo businesses that violate the ordinance will first receive a written warning, but the city will take a business friendly approach when enforcing the ordinance, according to Camarillo community relations officer Michelle Glueckert D’Anna.

Before issuing fines, the city will educate businesses about the ordinance and resources available to them, such as up to $500 in non-expanded polystyrene containers through the Green Business Network.

The ordinance also allows a one-year exemption for businesses that face a financial burden by immediately switching out its plastic foam containers.

Camarillo economic development coordinator Georg Winkler said at a May City Council meeting the city is not anticipating many local businesses to apply for the exemption since Santa Barbara only received two exemptions when a similar ban went into effect in 2019.

As expanded polystyrene ages, it breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics that are mistaken as food by marine life, Winkler said. During past Coastal Cleanup Days, organizers found plastic foam throughout Camarillo. In 2018, 145 pieces of the non-biodegradable material were found in the Mission Oaks barranca, and 285 pieces were found the following year.

Before drafting the ordinance, city staff presented a report to the City Council that found a Styrofoam ban would only have a minor financial impact on businesses. According to the report, the cost of non-expanded polystyrene 6-inch and 9-inch containers, as well as 16-ounce cups, is between 1 to 26 cents more expensive than their Styrofoam counterparts.