As we prepare for the upcoming International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 17th, we can celebrate San Francisco’s ban on Styrofoam that was just passed in June and that will go into effect next January. Building on a law passed in 2007 that banned Styrofoam food containers, the Board of Supervisors passed a new comprehensive Styrofoam ban that outlaws items such as packaging peanuts, ice chests, and marine buoys. San Francisco is working to achieve its target goals of zero waste in 2020 and reducing landfill garbage. Styrofoam, being a petroleum product, isn’t recyclable or biodegradable so it ends up in landfill or as litter that washes out to the Bay.
Styrofoam degrades from litter in our waterways to marine debris in the ocean, breaking into smaller pieces that can be ingested by marine wildlife and birds. A toxic soup of endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens is released into the ocean from Styrofoam pieces sinking and being present in the water column, staying in the environment for a long time. 425,000 Styrofoam cups, plates and food containers were removed by volunteers from beaches during last year’s International Coastal Clean-up Day, as cited by the Coastal Conservancy. San Francisco is taking the lead banning Styrofoam which will inspire other cities to follow suit as they work to reduce landfill trash and litter polluting our watershed.
Please join us and other local volunteers Saturday September 17th for the 32nd annual International Coastal Clean-up as The Watershed Project will host two clean-up sites at the Albany Bulb and the Richmond Shoreline at Shimada Friendship Park. We’ll be collecting, weighing, and counting trash and recyclables to send the results to the Coastal Conservancy, which monitors litter’s impact on our oceans. We can enjoy a day with family and friends cleaning up and caring for our beaches, and contributing as citizen scientists to our long term understanding of the health of our oceans and waterways.