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Renewed push for Grover Beach polystyrene ban

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A small but vocal group of Grover Beach residents wants the city to follow the example of other SLO County municipalities and ban the use of polystyrene food and drink containers.

Residents made their case at the Grover Beach City Council’s Jan. 9 regular meeting, encouraging the body to begin the process of discussing and drafting a ban.

“I think this is a great opportunity to join the other cities of this county as well as other cities in our nation,” Kathleen Curtis said. 

Expanded polystyrene (also known as EPS or “white foam”) is commonly used in cups, plates, and to-go boxes for food and drink in restaurants. While it may be convenient for hungry tourists and residents on the go in Grover Beach, Curtis and many of the other individuals who spoke at the meeting raised concerns about its impact on the environment, including ocean wildlife. EPS isn’t very biodegradable and easily breaks up into small pieces, which fish and birds can swallow.

“It has a significant impact,” said Brad Snook, chair for the Surfrider Foundation of San Luis Obispo. Snook and others advocating for the ban said they’d participated in beach clean up events around SLO County, and were alarmed by the amount of polystyrene they collected. Curtis said that a clean up effort in September netted more than 6,500 pounds of debris.

“Polystyrene was among the top 10 items collected in that time,” Curtis told the council.

Should Grover Beach pass such a ban, it would join a number of other SLO County cities, including Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, and SLO city. 

This wasn’t the first time calls for a polystyrene ban have been brought up to the council. Janine Rands, a member of the grassroots organization SLO Foam Free which lobbied many of the other cities that passed bans, said members asked the council to take up the issue 16 months ago.

“We’re back because your City Council did not write an ordinance,” she said.

Rands said the group hopes to get a polystyrene ban passed at the county level and that the effort would have a better chance to succeed if SLO County’s major cities signed on and passed their own bans.

It appears likely that the council will at least consider such a ban. Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals indicated that the city and council had recently been busy with major projects to revamp and repair city streets.

“We are heading into a phase were we can take on other initiatives,” Shoals said. 

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