Last week, the Irvine City Council voted to eliminate single-use plastic and polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) items from city operations and city-sponsored events. This would not apply to third-party vendors who sell products at city-sponsored events, at least for now. But a proposed ordinance banning single-use plastic citywide — including plastic bags, polystyrene and plastic containers and utensils in what city officials are hailing as the strictest ban in the state — didn’t get the greenlight Tuesday evening.
After more than two hours of public comment, the City Council said more work was needed on a plan to curtail plastic use across Irvine, directing city staff to continue outreach with stakeholders and launch an educational campaign. The City Council will consider a revised plan later at an unspecified date. The conversation about reducing the city’s plastic waste commenced in July when the council voted unanimously to develop a plastic waste reduction program. The ordinance proposed to councilmembers would:
- Ban the use of Styrofoam and plastic containers and utensils in food service and retail
- Ban the sale of non-compostable single-use plastic utensils and cups, as well as Styrofoam containers and coolers
- Ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles of one liter or less
- Ban all types of single-use plastic bags
The proposed ban would apply to restaurants and food retailers and be phased in in three cycles, with the first focused on education and outreach. Instead of using punitive measures from the get-go, the city would initially take an educational approach and help businesses transition away from plastics before taking more typical enforcement measures, such as citations and monetary fines.