It’s time – no to styrofoam!

Stephanie Buffum from the Friends of the San Juan tells me we’ve finally got my friend Doris’ proposal on the docket – and it’s about time. This County has been a leader in other areas of environmental protection (when was the last time you saw a jetski? Right!) and now it’s time to ban styrofoam on the island. Here’s more:

The San Juan Island Anti-Litter Initiative is introducing a proposal to ban Styrofoam food containers such as cups, plates and clam shells used for disposal “take out” food service.  Members of the Anti-Litter Initiative are introducing the draft ordinance to the Town of Friday Harbor on June 4 at 12 pm in the Town Council Chambers; and to San Juan County Council on June 8th at 11:15 am in the Council Legislative Building.  (Draft ordinance below).

The proposed ordinance would take affect Earth Day, 2010, giving businesses with foam inventory almost a year to make the switch to compostable alternatives.  Packages holding raw meat sold at grocery stores would be exempt from the ordinance. The ordinance is modeled after the City of Seattle’s Styrofoam Ban ordinance. The savings to the climate, landfill and our oceans health will make the change worth while.
This Ordinance is the brain-child of Doris Estabrooks, 87, who has been gathering signatures on a petition for the ban, since 2006. To date, Estabrooks became concerned with impacts of Styrofoam on our health and the impacts to wildlife. She’s collected over 1200 signatures to ban the substance in San Juan County.  Estabrooks also found out the styrene from the foam can leach out into the food the container. While the amount may be small, amounts of the chemical may contribute to cancer and other serious health affects, such as birth defects.

Estabrooks appeared before the Town Council in 2007 requesting a ban on Styrofoam and the Council responded through the adoption of Town of Friday Harbor Resolution #1595 banning Styrofoam from Town Hall and encouraging local businesses to voluntarily ban Polystyrene Styrofoam food containers which was adopted in 2007.

But she had had a larger idea in mind, to ban its use entirely for disposal food service items, as was done in Portland, Oregon more than ten years ago, and has since been done numerous other cities such as Seattle and Berkeley.

Doris has been approaching restaurants encouraging them to switch to paper products. Some have, others have not. Doris lobbied the Mullis Community Senior Center to switch from using Styrofoam for lunch program. Doris personally uses a stainless steel “tiffin tin” that can be reused indefinitely for “take home” meals.

The San Juan Island Anti-Litter Initiative has researched other communities that had drafted ordinances in preparation of a draft ordinance for San Juan County, contacted the department of Health for a list of all “open food establishments” (these include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, resorts, bed and breakfasts, senior centers, etc) in the county. A majority of all open food establishments have been contacted and surveyed. Most self report that they do not use Styrofoam, however, there are still many who have not made the conversion away from Styrofoam.

Fact sheets with information on how to locate compostable alternatives for purchase are available from the Chamber of Commerce thanks to research conducted by Sam Jacobson, Lodging Director at Roche Harbor Resort. Sam is also a member of the San Juan Chamber of Commerce and a member or the Solid Waste Advisory Board.

The San Juan Island Anti-Litter Coalition is supported by over fifty organizations on San Juan Island including the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of the San Juans, Trashmasters, Roche Harbor Resort, Kings Market, and the Lions Club to name a few.


ORDINANCE _________________
San Juan County, Washington
Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Food Container Ban
AN ORDINANCE relating to San Juan County’s solid waste system, prohibiting the use and sale of expanded polystyrene food service containers, requiring food service businesses to transition from disposable plastic food service ware to compostable and recyclable alternatives, and amending San Juan County Code 8.12; and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Legislature in RCW 70.95.010(8)(a) established waste reduction as the first priority for the collection, handling, and management of solid waste; and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Legislature in RCW 70.95.010(4) found that it is “necessary to change manufacturing and purchasing practices and waste generation behaviors to reduce the amount of waste that becomes a governmental responsibility;” and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Legislature in RCW 70.95.010(6)(c) found that it is the responsibility of local governments “to assume primary responsibility for solid waste management and to develop and implement aggressive and effective waste reduction and source separation strategies;” and

WHEREAS, in 1996 the County Council adopted Resolution 25-1996, The 1996 Solid Waste Management Plan for San Juan County: A Joint Project of the Town of Friday Harbor and San Juan County. The plan’s recommendation 4.0.1 states that, “Solid Waste staff will explore the possibility of a ban on polystyrene food packaging in the Town and County as allowed under RCW70.95C.100 and will prepare a recommendation for the Board of County Commissioners in 1997;” and

WHEREAS, in 2007 the Town of Friday Harbor passed  Resolution #1595 banning Styrofoam from Town Hall and encouraging local businesses to voluntarily ban Polystyrene Styrofoam food containers.  The Town’s resolution states. “Styrofoam enters storm drains and watersheds, thereby harming the natural environment and if ingested by marine animals, fish, or birds, frequently causing death;” and

WHEREAS, costs associated with the use and disposal of expanded polystyrene food service products and disposable food service ware in San Juan County creates burdens on the County’s solid waste disposal system; and

WHEREAS, to discourage and decrease the use of certain expanded polystyrene food service products and disposable food service ware in the County, it is necessary to regulate such use; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the people that regulations prohibit the use of certain expanded polystyrene food service products to reduce the cost of solid waste disposal by the County and to protect the environment; NOW, THEREFORE,

A.  Effective April 22, 2010 (Earth Day) food service businesses shall be prohibited from selling or providing food, for consumption on or off the premises, in expanded polystyrene food service products, except as otherwise provided under subsection B.
B.  Prepackaged soups and other foods that food service businesses sell or otherwise provide to their customers in expanded polystyrene containers that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service businesses; and meat products sold on polystyrene, shall be exempt from the prohibition established in subsection D.
C.  For purposes of this ordinance, the following definitions shall apply.
1.  “Compostable” means made solely of organic substances that break down into a stable product due to the action of bacteria in a controlled, aerobic commercial process that results in a material safe and desirable as a soil amendment meeting the compost quality standards found under WAC 173-350-220 for metals, physical parameters, pathogens, manufactured inert material and other testing parameters set by the local Health Department.
2.  “Disposable plastic food service ware” means non-recyclable containers, plates, “clamshells,” serving trays, meat and vegetable trays, hot and cold beverage cups, and utensils that are made of plastic or plastic-coated paper and intended only for one-time use (including so-called biodegradable products where any portion is not compostable).
3.  “Expanded polystyrene” means blown polystyrene and expanded and extruded foams (sometimes called Styrofoam, a Dow Chemical Co. trademarked form of polystyrene foam insulation) which are thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of polymer spheres (expandable bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blow molding (extruded foam polystyrene).
4.  “Expanded polystyrene food service products” means food containers, plates, “clamshells,” hot and cold beverage cups, meat and vegetable trays, egg cartons, and other products, made of expanded polystyrene and used for selling or providing food for consumption on or off the premises.
5.  “Food service businesses” means full-service restaurants, fast food restaurants, cafés, delicatessens, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks or carts, business or institutional cafeterias, or other businesses, selling or providing food within San Juan County for consumption on or off the premises.
6.  “Polystyrene foam” means any styrene or vinyl chloride polymer which is blown into a foam-like material.
7.  “Recyclable” means made solely of materials that are capable of being separated from a waste stream by a food service business and made available for collection and delivery to a processor for reuse or remanufacture into the same or other products.
D. Exemptions. The San Juan County Council, or its appointee,  may exempt a food vendor, food packager or non-profit food provider from the requirements of this Code, upon showing by the applicant that the conditions of this Code would cause undue hardship.  The phrase “undue hardship, shall be construed to include but not limited to:
1.    Situations where there are no acceptable alternatives to PSF packaging for reasons which are unique to the vendor,  packager or provider;
2.    Situations where compliance with the requirements of this Code would deprive a person of a legally protected right.  If a request for exemption is based on a claim that a legally protected right would be denied if  compliance were required and such request for exception were denied,  review of the denial shall only be by County Council.

E.  Effective April 22, 2011, food service businesses shall be prohibited from selling or providing food, for consumption on or off the premises, in or with disposable plastic food service ware.  Acceptable alternatives for prohibited disposable plastic food service ware shall be compostable or recyclable.

F.   Enforcement: The violation of or failure to comply with any of the following sections shall be a civil infraction and subject as a Class 1 civil infraction under RCW 7.80.120 to a maximum monetary penalty and default amount of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00).
G.  Severability: The provisions of this ordinance are declared to be separate and severable.  If a court of competent jurisdiction, all appeals having been exhausted or all appeal periods having run, finds any provision of this ordinance to be invalid or unenforceable as to any person or circumstance, such offending provision shall, if feasible, be deemed to be modified to be within the limits of enforceability or validity.  However, if the offending provision cannot be so modified, it shall be null and void with respect to the particular person or circumstance, and all other provisions of this ordinance in all other respects, and the offending provision with respect to all other persons and all other circumstances, shall remain valid and enforceable.

This ordinance shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days from and after its approval by the Council.
Passed by the San Juan County Council the ____ day of  _____________, 2009, and signed by me in open session in authentication of its passage this
_____ day of ___________________, 2009.

ADOPTED this ___ day of ____________ 2009.

ATTEST:  Clerk of the Council
By: ________________________
Ann Larson, Clerk            Date:
Lovel Pratt, Member
District 1, San Juan South

Rich Peterson, Chair
District 2, San Juan North

Howard Rosenfeld, Member
District 3, Friday Harbor

Richard Fralick, Vice Chair
District 4, Orcas West/Waldron
Gene Knapp, Member
District 5, Orcas East

Bob Myhr, Member
District 6, Lopez/Shaw

Pete Rose                     Date


Posted on June 4, 2009 at 11:24 am by

Categories: Enviro Corner
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