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Teens push Paso to reconsider Styrofoam ban 

The Paso Robles City Council will reconsider its stance on banning expanded polystyrene products after hearing from a vocal group of local high school students.

click to enlarge FOAM FREE A group of Paso Robles teenagers convinced their city council to reopen discussion about banning expanded polystyrene food containers like the one pictured. - FILE PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI
  • File Photo By Kaori Funahashi
  • FOAM FREE A group of Paso Robles teenagers convinced their city council to reopen discussion about banning expanded polystyrene food containers like the one pictured.

At a March 20 meeting, members of the Paso Robles Youth Commission and the Paso Robles High School Wilderness Club showed up to urge members of the council to pass a ban on expanded polystyrene food and drink containers, joining five other SLO County cities that have already enacted similar ordinances. After hearing them out, the council asked the city manager to agendize the issue for a future discussion.

"I am sufficiently swayed by their argument to ask the council to put this back on the agenda for further discussion," Mayor Steve Martin said. "That discussion will include possible action."

The youth who spoke in favor of enacting the ban cited concerns about public health and the environment, particularly the impact of the material ending up as trash in the Salinas River. Gavin Hughes, president of the Wilderness Club, told the council that his group had come across large amounts of expanded polystyrene while doing clean-up projects along the river, and raised concerns about the light material being carried north in the Salinas River watershed and out into the ocean during the rainy season.

"[The river] is kind of the lifeblood of the region here," Hughes said. "We in Paso Robles have a unique responsibility, in that we are situated on the Salinas River, to regulate the trash flow through there."

The council had previously discussed a polystyrene ban in July 2017, but declined to take any action on the item, citing concerns about government overreach. If it does eventually pass a ban, the city will join SLO, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, and Morro Bay, which have passed bans on the material. SLO Foam Free, an organization that has worked to get SLO County's cities to pass the ban, urged the Paso council to join those cities and more than 100 others in the state that have passed similar ordinances.

"I urge your committee to not delay," Janine Rands, a member of SLO Foam Free, told the council. "You guys can do this now ... let's get it done."

Rands and SLO Foam Free have previously said they would like to get all the cities in SLO County to pass a polystyrene ban, and hope to use that to push for a similar ordinance at a county level.


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