The city of Irvine is considering a ban on single-use plastic for local restaurants in order to reduce the amount of harmful plastic being distributed to the community.
Water bottles, takeout polystyrene containers and plastic utensils are among the items that would be banned if an ordinance pending vote by the city council passes on Tuesday, making it one of the strictest in the entire nation.
"We are choking on plastic, especially our oceans and even our city here," said City Councilmember Kathleen Treseder.
Tresder, a climate scientist with the University of California, Irvine, is the one who suggested the ban on single-use plastics in October.
Her suggestion, modeled after a similar ban in Laguna Beach that goes into effect next year, would:
- prohibit the sale of single-use plastic items,
- limit water sales to environmentally friendly containers,
- ban the use of polystyrene and other plastic containers for food service, and
- mandate the use of compostable takeout containers.
While many agree with the concept, the proposal has been met with backlash from some local restaurants and businesses.
"I don't like it because my children need their water at school," said one woman. "I don't want them to drink out of the ones that you need to keep washing and washing."
Treseder says that lobbyists have been sending texts and emails to Irvine residents, urging them to speak out against the guidelines of the ordinance.
Some business owners say that an immediate change would make things very difficult for them to operate, while others have already begun to take the more eco-friendly approach, like Breakfast Republic, where they serve drinks with metal straws and use environmentally safe to-go boxes and utensils.
"It will close down businesses no doubt," said Bryan Starr, president of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce.
Starr believes that the council needs to consider the possible impact on businesses before implementing the motion.
The city did try to get input from Irvine's 17,000 restaurants and other businesses before discussing the bill. In 120 days, officials only heard back from 130 of them, or less than 1%.
As it stands, four of the five Irvine City Councilmembers have already voted to have staff write up an official ordinance, despite the vote's date slated for Tuesday.
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