For businesses in Irvine using single-use plastics and polystyrene containers, an upcoming city council vote could result in new ordinances restricting the use of such items in Irvine altogether. 

Conceptually, the ban, introduced by Council member Dr. Kathleen Treseder in July, would help reduce the environmental impacts of single-use plastics while helping Irvine stay on track for its climate sustainability goals. 

The Irvine City Council, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, will continue a discussion on the city’s proposed single-use plastic ban. The ban, if approved, would call for all businesses to eliminate the use of containers made with plastic or expanded polystyrene – commonly known as Styrofoam. 

Items that fall under the potential ban include plastic water bottles, boba cups, plastic utensils, plastic plates, plastic bowls, plastic clamshells, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, plastic lids, plastic lid plugs and any non-compostable plastics, and would be subject to enforcement, according to a staff report.   

In lieu of plastic containers, Irvine’s single-use plastic ban would require restaurants to use compostable takeout containers for to-go items and reusable food ware for dine-in items. Foil wrappers and paper trays will still be acceptable.   

Grocery stores would also eliminate the use of plastic bags. Instead, grocers would incorporate the use of washable and paper bags. 

In a phone call Tuesday, Irvine Council Member Tammy Kim said she supported aspects of the ban and understood the impact that the ban would bring to many businesses throughout the city.

“I am in support of portions of it,” she said. “We need to really push the needle if we’re going to achieve our sustainability goals. So that I recognize – it’s just a matter of how we get there.”  

Kim added that she had received dozens of emails regarding the potential ban from local business owners, who are very much against its implementation.  

“We’ve got businesses who are trying to be responsible by not using Styrofoam. And instead, they’re being — you know, they don’t know what to do, because they don’t know what solution there actually is,” she said. “What I don’t support is penalizing small businesses that will end up realistically taking the brunt of the issue.”

This is a developing story. 

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