THE PLASTIC POLLUTION PROBLEM Protecting the environment is part of Manhattan Beach’s core values. Yet, plastic straws and utensils of all shapes, sizes and colors are popping up everywhere from cocktails to delivery food to unasked-for glasses of water. Collectively, Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to fill up 125 school buses each day and wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times.
PLASTIC STRAWS AND UTENSILS HARM WILDLIFE Because they’re not recyclable, most plastic straws and utensils end up in landfills. The rest wind up polluting the environment and posing a threat to aquatic life. In fact, recent studies show that half of all sea turtles and nearly all seabirds have eaten plastic- and by 2050, it’s expected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight.
MANHATTAN BEACH IS TAKING ACTION Here in Manhattan Beach we have the opportunity to do something big about this problem, just as we did with plastic bags and polystyrene. Straws and utensils are in the top six most commonly found pieces of trash during beach cleanups in California, and are also some of the most harmful pieces of plastic pollution to marine life.
The Manhattan Beach City Council has passed several comprehensive ordinances concerning plastic and emerged as an environmental leader that other cities look to for best practices in plastic pollution reduction.
The City makes it a priority to protect our oceans and keep Manhattan Beach clean. Here are the ordinances the city has passed:
On June 5, 2018, the Manhattan Beach City Council adopted an ordinance updating the Municipal Code to prohibit single-use plastic straws, utensils, and stirrers. This is paired with an upon-request policy for non-plastic disposable items. Only straws and utensils made from non-plastic materials, such as wood, metal, bamboo, fiber, glass are allowed. Bioplastics, PLA plastics, and #7 plastics are NOT allowed. A grace period is allowed for businesses to exhaust their existing supply of plastic straws and utensils and to find alternatives.
June 5, 2018: City Council adopts ordinance
July 1, 2018: Ordinance goes into effect
January 1, 2019: Ordinance is enforced
Polystyrene Ban- Updated 2018
Manhattan Beach passed its first polystyrene ordinance in 2013, which banned polystyrene food service ware. It was amended in 2014 to include ice coolers, straws, cup lids, and utensils made from polystyrene materials, and a prohibition on the sale of polystyrene food service materials in local retail stores.
The new amendment in 2018 removes exemptions for raw food, including polystyrene produce trays and egg cartons. It also prohibits polystyrene packing materials, including packing peanuts and noodles.
- Paper/cardboard egg cartons
- Biodegradable packing materials
- Biodegradable vegetable trays
- Polystyrene or Styrofoam®️ egg cartons
- Polystyrene or Styrofoam®️ packing materials
- Polystyrene or Styrofoam®️ produce (fruit/vegetable) trays
LA beaches after a storm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Why is plastic a problem?
- Straws and utensils are in the top ten most commonly found pieces of trash during beach cleanups (Source)
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is double the size of Texas (Source)
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight) (Source)
- Utensils are one of the most harmful pieces of plastic pollution to marine life (Source)
- Single use plastic is harmful to marine life, and it is our responsibility to keep the ocean as plastic-free as possible
- Respecting our beaches and keeping our city clean is our civic duty
- Protecting and preserving the environment is a part of Manhattan Beach’s core values
Collectively, Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to fill up 125 school buses each day and wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times. Because they are not recyclable, they mostly end up in landfills. Straws and utensils are some of the most harmful pieces of plastic pollution to marine life, according to the Ocean Conservancy. Sea animals, especially turtles, mistake them for food, and it can get stuck in their digestive tract. Turtles sometimes try to regurgitate the plastic, and it can get stuck in their nasal cavities. Two videos of researchers pulling out a straw and a plastic utensil from a sea turtle’s nose went viral, and kicked off the movement to ban single-use plastics. Straws and plastic utensils, even when they are properly disposed of in a trash bin, can end up in our oceans and pollute our beaches. They are one of the most common pieces of trash found during beach cleanups.
Plastic fork in a sea turtle's nasal cavity. Straws are frequently found at beach cleanups.
What is the penalty for non-compliance?
Your business will receive a written notice that it is not in compliance with Manhattan Beach law. If your business continues to remain out of compliance, it will be fined via administrative citations.
How do I report a violation?
To report a violation, call the Code Enforcement’s main number (310) 802-5518. This number has a voicemail available 24 hours 7 days a week. Regular business hours are Monday through Thursday 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, alternate open Fridays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Another option is to email your complaint to Code Enforcement.
What does “upon-request” mean and why is it needed if plastic straws and utensils are banned?
“Upon-request” simply means that customers will not receive disposable non-plastic straws and utensils unless they specifically ask for one. City Council included it in the ordinance to try and offset the cost of using non-plastic alternatives, while reducing the use of disposables and encouraging reusable utensils and straws.
How do I make sure my business is compliant and ocean-friendly?
The ordinance applies to all establishments and businesses that sell or use single-use plastic straws and utensils. If using non-plastic alternatives is a financial burden, you may qualify for a short-term exemption. The upon-request policy is incorporated with the straw and utensil ban to try to offset the costs of non-plastic alternatives while reducing the use of disposables. Please see our guidelines to the ordinance in English (PDF) or in Spanish (PDF).
How do I, as a resident, help comply with this ordinance?
Firstly, the City would like to thank residents who have already committed to going strawless and eating without plastic utensils. Drinking without a straw is the best option, but we understand if residents feel like they need a straw when eating out. If residents are worried about not having single-use straws or plastic utensils when they sit down for a meal or get take-out, reusable straws and utensils are the way to go. Reusable straws made from bamboo, stainless steel, or glass are the best options, although there are reusable plastic straws as well. There are also stainless steel and reusable plastic utensils available for on-the-go use. To help businesses comply, we recommend residents be proactive by saying, "No straw, please" or "No plastic utensils, please" when ordering food and drinks, especially for take-out or delivery. The City appreciates the community for helping keep Manhattan Beach plastic-free.
If you have any questions, please contact the Environmental Sustainability Division at (310)-802-5508.