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Polystyrene Foam Ban
The sale of food service ware and packing materials is prohibited in foam
Effective January 1, 2017

The vendor lists below are informational only; the City of Malibu does not endorse products or services.

For information about how to comply with the ordinance, refer to the Polystyrene Foam Ban Fact Sheet, which has a visual guide with acceptable compostable or recyclable packaging.
Call Malibu City Hall at 310-456-2489 if you have questions about the Polystyrene Foam Ban. Environmental Programs staff will return your message during weekday business hours.

Frequently Asked Questions
When does the Polystyrene Foam Ban go into effect?
The law is in effect now. The ordinance's effective date is January 1, 2017.

What businesses does the ordinance apply to in Malibu?
The ordinance applies to anyone who sells or distributes food ware, packing materials, and other specified products.

What are the requirements of this ordinance? 
The ordinance bans the sale or distribution of the following products made, in whole or in part, from polystyrene foam:
  • Food ware (including cups, plates, clamshells, and other containers)
  • Meat and fish trays, and egg cartons
  • Packing materials* (including “peanuts” and shipping boxes, and when using within Malibu to pack items sold, unless packing materials were donated or are reused and not sent to consumer or end user)
  • Coolers, ice chests or similar containers*
  • Pool or beach toys*
  • Dock floats, mooring buoys, or anchor or navigational markers*
* Unless they are wholly encased within a more durable material

What is polystyrene foam?
Polystyrene foam is extruded, blown or expanded polystyrene (EPS). It is a thermoplastic petrochemical material made with styrene. It is usually white and often used for packaging, such as loose fill packaging “peanuts” or blocks, and food ware.

What products are acceptable alternatives to polystyrene foam?  
Packing materials and disposable food ware sold or distributed in Malibu must be compostable or recyclable. Examples include those made with paper, cardboard, molded or rigid pulp or plastic, or certified compostable starch “peanuts”, loose fill or foam. Examples of products not compostable or recyclable include those made with polyurethane or polyethylene foam, or metallized film or paper. 

What is the purpose of the ban?
Restricting the use of polystyrene foam and requiring it to be replaced with less hazardous, compostable, or readily recyclable products will further protect the public health and safety of Malibu’s residents, as well as its natural environment, waterways, and wildlife.

Polystyrene foam is one of the most commonly found plastic items on beaches and inland creeks, often breaks down into smaller pieces, making it more challenging to recover, and is easily ingested by wildlife. Polystyrene foam does not biodegrade in the environment and may persist for hundreds of years. It is a pollutant that breaks down into smaller pieces that are often mistaken for fish eggs by seabirds and other marine life. Unlike harder plastics, polystyrene contains a chemical used in the production process called “styrene” that is metabolized after ingestion and contaminates the food chain, including humans who consume contaminated marine wildlife.

Isn’t polystyrene foam already banned in Malibu?
Malibu food service providers are already prohibited, under Malibu Municipal Code Chapter 9.24, from using polystyrene foam food containers, and this ordinance extends such prohibition to the sale and distribution of food ware and additional products in the city, where there are acceptable alternatives.

How is this ordinance different from the 2005 ordinance?
Since 2005, Malibu has had a ban on polystyrene foam food ware for food prepared and served in the city, which has successfully reduced polystyrene litter. However, remaining polystyrene foam is still having a negative impact on the environment in that it is easily transported by wind and water, does not biodegrade, and is ingested by wildlife. This ordinance expands on the success of the food service ware ban in reducing polystyrene foam use and litter.

Who is responsible for enforcement?

The City Manager is responsible for enforcement of the ordinance. The City is committed to conducting education and outreach to businesses to ensure a smooth transition to safer alternatives. Penalties for non-compliance will be issued as a last resort and may result in fines.

Are there waivers available?
The City Manager may waive provisions of the ordinance in the following circumstances:
  • If no reasonably feasible alternative exists for a specific product or product category
  • If a business demonstrates compliance is unreasonably financially prohibitive
  • If strict application of the specific application would create undue hardship not generally applicable to other persons in similar circumstances
Requests for waivers must be submitted on a written application on a form approved by the City Manager. In no case shall a waiver be retroactive or continue past January 1, 2020.

Is polystyrene foam recyclable in Malibu?
Polystyrene foam packaging and food service ware cannot be recycled through Malibu’s recycling (blue bin) collection program as it can break into small pieces that are too difficult to handle. Polystyrene foam is otherwise difficult, uneconomical or impossible to recycle, especially if food soiled, and is not compostable. 

The City supports Sustainable Surf's Waste to Waves Program by hosting several events annually. White block foam is collected and recycled into surfboard blanks. To receive event reminders by email or text, sign up for the Environmental Programs Calendar with the City’s Notify Me system.

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