Save The Bay Volunteers Remove Hundreds of Gallons of Styrofoam from Coyote Creek on National River Cleanup Day

May 22, 2013

Save The Bay, the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay, urges the San Jose City Council to pass an ordinance that will ban polystyrene foam food ware (Styrofoam) at restaurants in the city.

On Saturday, May 18, Save The Bay and its volunteers pulled several 32 gallon garbage bags of Styrofoam trash (along with many bags of assorted trash comprised of food wrappers, cigarette butts, spray paint cans, and plastic) out of San Jose’s Coyote Creek. Three of the volunteers collected an impressive 60 gallons of Styrofoam in three hours.

The ordinance, which the council has been considering for almost two years, will help to protect local creeks from the pervasive plastic pollution impacting the Bay Area.

Coyote Creek was one of five “Bay Trash Hot Spots” the organization highlighted in October 2012 with such high levels of trash they violate the Clean Water Act. It was one of two sites Save The Bay adopted to clean up in the coming year. This is the first such clean-up scheduled at Coyote Creek since it made the list of hot spots. The next clean-up is tentatively scheduled for Coastal Cleanup Day 2013, held every September.

In February 2013 the San Jose City Council voted to draft an ordinance to ban Styrofoam food ware. All that remains now is for the city to vote on the final ordinance language this summer.

“Styrofoam trash is one of the most common forms of trash we find in local waterways,” said Allison Chan, Clean Bay Campaign Manager for Save The Bay. “It’s a particularly bad one because it’s so lightweight it easily finds its way into creeks and the Bay, where it breaks down into tiny, toxic pieces that threaten wildlife and are difficult and expensive to clean up.”

San Jose was a national leader in passing the most comprehensive single-use plastic bag ban at the time in 2010, but has stalled in passing similar legislation to curtail the use of Styrofoam food ware. Currently 30 cities in the Bay Area have banned Styrofoam food ware. If San Jose acts, it would be the largest city in the country to do so.

Styrofoam Facts:
•    Food soiled Styrofoam is not recyclable
•    Styrofoam is made from non-renewable petroleum resources
•    The chemicals used to make Styrofoam are toxic to people and wildlife
•    Environmentally friendly food packaging generally costs just a few cents more
•    Styrofoam is a major component of debris found in the ocean

About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. As the Bay’s leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay remains dedicated to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife. Save The Bay protect our natural treasure from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development; restore habitat; and secure strong policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of wetlands that are essential for a healthy Bay. We engage more than 40,000 supporters, advocates and volunteers to protect the Bay, and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders by educating thousands of students annually.