Southern California environment news and trends

Hermosa Beach battles to ban foam takeout boxes

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As cities across California are embroiled in the contentious movement towards eliminating plastic bags, another environmentally based container war is raging in the Hermosa Beach.

The Hermosa Beach City Council has voted in favor of banning single-use polystyrene (better known as Styrofoam) food containers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the primary component Styrene is a known toxic substance, with extended exposure contributing to depression, hearing loss, headaches and fatigue. Polystyrene can take hundreds of years to decompose if trashed instead of recycled.

According to the Daily Breeze, while the Hermosa Beach motion passed with only two dissenting votes, the ban is being opposed by a host of organizations, including the California Restaurant Association, American Chemistry Council and California Growers Association.

"We definitely want to be part of the solution," said Vanessa Rodriquez, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association. "But banning one product will only result in litter substitution."

Originally proposed by the city’s Green Task Force back in 2010, the ban is set to go into effect in 180 days if the vote stands. In such a case, violators would be faced with a written warning. Any following violations would elicit fines ranging from $100 to $500.

With polystyrene cited as the trash most often found on Hermosa Beach next to cigarette buts, Mayor Howard Fishman is eager to see it banned.

"My agenda has been health and safety, so obviously I am going to support a ban on polystyrene," he said in the Daily Breeze. "Polystyrene does need to be eliminated. It harms the environment, it kills marine life."

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