Foodware Ordinance Just the First Step in Protecting Our Beaches: Here’s How You Can Help

September 6, 2018 11:29 AM
by Amanda Grossman

Plastic pollution has been floating around for a long time, but the increasing burden plastics place on marine ecosystems and us, is now unavoidable. Even if you haven’t been hearing about plastics in the news, it’s pretty hard to avoid the issue since plastic is everywhere.

Long gone are the notions that our single use plastics are getting properly disposed of and repurposed to live another life. We have to realize that this product we’re using for a few minutes out of the day can last over 100 years in the ocean or landfill.

Plastics do disintegrate over time, some quicker than others, but the end result is tiny micro-plastics. Sometimes the size of a sesame seed, these tiny pieces are floating all over the ocean and being consumed by marine life. We must start the process of unwinding this beast of a problem, and it begins here at home. Yes, there are a lot of other sources of plastics pollution across the globe, but what we can do here is central to the current efforts of our City Council.

In an effort to reduce ocean plastic pollution and reduce landfill waste, Council modified the existing Food Service Container Ordinance. Starting January 1, 2019, food and beverage providers shall only distribute prepared food on or in marine degradable food serviceware. Food serviceware products include straws, utensils, containers, plates, trays, bowls, cups, lids, lid plugs, and stirrers. Marine degradable materials include, but are not limited to, paper, fiber, wood, bagasse, wheat straw or food/edible. Marine degradable straws and utensils will be distributed only upon request from the customer.

The way we dine and carry out at our local food establishments needs to change. We must start asking ourselves what we’re willing to bring with us when we’re on the go. If we know we’re going to get coffee sometime, then let’s remember to bring a travel mug. If we know the place we regularly have lunch at only has disposable utensils, then let’s keep a reusable fork in our purse or backpack. Also, consider what restaurants have reusable foodware for customers or what restaurants incentivize their customers to bring their own. Sounds like a no-brainer.

Santa Monica is committed to protecting what we love, and we love our beaches. Tourism is central to our economy, and recreational swimmers and boarders are central to our culture. By protecting what we love, and by supporting these new provisions for take-out foods, we renew our commitment to what sets us apart from all the rest – Best in Beach!

To stay informed about Santa Monica’s foodware ordinance, visit

Authored By

Amanda Grossman
Sustainability Analyst