Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Santa Monica City Council Approves Extensive Ban on Single-Use Plastics

Meanwhile the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Continues to Grow

 

August 16, 2018

David Ganezer

Garbage, Porta Potty and Recycling receptacles in a Santa Monica Alley

8/14: Concerned about the effect on marine wild life, the Santa Monica City Council has tightened existing law banning plastic.

The City will require restaurants and those selling food to go, to supply marine degradable materials. After January 1, 2019, this will include straws, lids, plates, bowls, trays, containers, utensils, stirrers, cups, and lid plugs.

Plastic straws will no longer be available, even upon customers' request. All materials used to enclose take out food in the future, will have to be paper or wood fiber, so they are marine biodegradable.

"This vote aligns with the City's sustainability goals and longstanding commitment to the environment, which includes a goal to achieve zero waste through diversion, composting, and recycling by 2030," wrote Constance Farrell, City Public Information Officer.

Santa Monica was one of the first cities to ban polystyrene food service containers in 2007 and single-use plastic bags in 2011, Farrell noted.

"As a beach city, single-use plastics pose serious problems for the natural environment, including polluting the ocean and clogging landfills," said Chief Sustainability Officer Dean Kubani. "With this vote, the City Council ensures that Santa Monica continues to leads on the environment by being one of the first cities to ban all plastic food service ware, including cups and lids. This decision will protect our beaches while also getting us closer to our zero waste goal by 2030."

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Expands

The world's largest collection of ocean garbage is growing.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, says a study published in July. That's twice the size of Texas.

Winds and converging ocean currents funnel the garbage into a central location, said study lead author Laurent Lebreton of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization that spearheaded the research.

First discovered in the early 1990s, the trash in the patch comes from around the Pacific Rim, including nations in Asia and North and South America, Lebreton said.

Map of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The patch is not a solid mass of plastic. It includes about 1.8 trillion pieces and weighs 88,000 tons - the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets. The new figures are as much as 16 times higher than previous estimates.

The research - the most complete study undertaken of the garbage patch - was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

 "We were surprised by the amount of large plastic objects we encountered," said Julia Reisser of the foundation. "We used to think most of the debris consists of small fragments, but this new analysis shines a new light on the scope of the debris."

The study was based on a three-year mapping effort by an international team of scientists affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, six universities and an aerial sensor company.

 

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