This U.S. City Just Banned The Sale of Styrofoam Products

This is the most extensive ban placed on the material in the U.S. to date.



By the year 2017, it will be illegal for polystyrene – the trademarked brand name Styrofoam – to be sold in the city of San Francisco.

This news is a result of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passing a ban on the packaging material. As of January 1st, it will be illegal for polystyrene food packaging, packing peanuts, takeaway containers, coffee cups, foam dock floatings, mooring buoys, and pool toys to be sold in the city. According to ScienceAlert, this is the most extensive ban placed on the material in the U.S. to date.

Most locals are thrilled with the news. As you may know, polystyrene is the petroleum-based plastic foam that’s used to make a range of disposable items, and it’s commonly thrown away after one use. Similar to plastic, it takes years to decompose and can leach harmful chemicals into the environment, as well as kill wildlife when it is ingested. It seems it’s best if the packaging material isn’t sold in the first place, which is why San Francisco passed the ban.

Allison Chan, the Clean Bay Campaign manager for the Oakland, California-based Organization Save the Bay, told Take Part: 

“The main challenge posed by Styrofoam is that it breaks into tiny little pieces, especially outside in the sun when it photodegrades. It looks more and more like food and makes them feel full, and really, they’re malnourished and they can die from that condition.”


It should be noted that styrofoam insulation products won’t be banned. But, as of July 1st, 2017, it will be illegal to sell polystyrene fish and meat trays. Some critics have complained that the ban will hurt supermarkets that use polystyrene trays by not giving them enough time to switch to acceptable packaging. In effect, the Board of Supervisors granted grocers a six-month waiver to find eco-friendly packaging for meats and fish.

All these steps have been taken to help San Francisco meet its goal of becoming a waste-free city by 2020.

Board of Supervisors President London Breed wrote on her Facebook page shortly after the vote:

“I just passed the toughest anti-Styrofoam law in the country, and we did it unanimously. This is a huge step for our environment and health. San Francisco is on our way to leading the country on environmental policy—again!”


In 2007, San Francisco passed a ban on the sale of polystyrene takeaway containers, mainly due to environmental concerns. This latest initiative, however, takes it even further. Though New York banned the sale of styrofoam cups, it was quickly overturned when the critics deemed the ban to be “neither environmentally effective or economically feasible.” Activist hope that San Francisco maintains its latest decision.

A few chemical companies have spoken out against the ban, primarily stating that styrofoam is more eco-friendly than some biodegradable options, but as Tim Shestek, the council’s senior director, stated: “All packaging leaves an environmental footprint.”

Is this the right move for the city of San Francisco? Please comment below and share this news!

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