San Francisco Will Ban Styrofoam Products From City

Say goodbye to those packing peanuts you love so much

Styrofoam Trash

2017: No More Styrofoam Trash in San Francisco

The city unanimously passed an ordinance to ban the sale of all polystyrene (Styrofoam) products on Tuesday.Eugene Peretz / Flickr

The city of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sale of polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam) this week. The restriction is an extension of a 2007 ordinance that banned take-out food containers made of the foam.

Set to start next year, this ordinance will be the strongest restriction of polystyrene foam in the United States.

While it can be recycled in some places, most polystyrene foam pollutes our public spaces, especially our water, where many animals ingest small, broken fragments. Made from petroleum, polystyrene only breaks down in the ocean, not in landfills, and can be toxic, especially when burned with other trash. Few polystyrene foam products are actually recycled, as the polystyrene needs to be clean and intact to start the process.

There are some critics who say that the ban goes too far and will only create new and different types of garbage to deal with instead. The American Chemistry Council, a trade group of polystyrene manufacturers, says there will be more carbon emissions, as different packaging materials will weigh down trucks and other forms of transportation.