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The City of San Diego is prohibiting the use or distribution of polystyrene, also known as the trademarked name Styrofoam, by April 1, 2023.

The San Diego City Council voted on Nov. 15 to ban all polystyrene foam and single-use plastics in an effort to reduce environmental pollution. According to city officials, polystyrene foam products are not easily recyclable and can end up in the environment as litter and possibly harm wildlife.

While the Enviornmental Impact Report is being prepared and the polystyrene foam and Single Use Plastics Ordinance is not being enforced, businesses and restaurants can choose to use either polystyrene foam or alternative products.

“To assist small businesses in making a successful transition, there would be a 12-month exemption for entities with less than $500,000 in annual income,” reads a San Diego city staff report.

During the City Council Meeting, UC San Diego student Hela Khalil, 17, urged city officials to take action on this matter so that the region's environment could see a cleaner future. 

“I am afraid to live in a world where the oceans are dying,” Khalil said. “That’s why I am urging those of you in power to take action now, so that I, along with other youth, don’t have to live in a world ravaged by climate change.”

According to a city staff report, plastic and polystyrene products are “a threat to the environment in San Diego as litter in our canyons, streets, waterways, and beaches. Polystyrene foam blows in the wind and floats on water, where it can be ingested by birds, fish, and other organisms.”

For more details on this ban, visit

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