Plastic foam products are no longer be allowed to be sold in any Watsonville stores.


Watsonville City Council voted on February 11, 2014 to join with Santa Cruz, Capitola and the County of Santa Cruz to ban the sale of plastic foam products. The ban went into effect on March 27. You can download the Ordinance on the Ban on sale of Plastic Foam below.

PlasticFoamOrdinance2014 (142.3 KiB)

Styrofoambansale2 (598.9 KiB)

Five years ago, City Council banned the use of Styrofoam by restaurants for carry-out food packaging. The new ban extends to products sold in retail and wholesale stores including plates, cups, bowls, coolers and pool toys.


Fortunately, there are many inexpensive and earth-friendly alternatives to plastic foam products. A set of sturdy but lightweight reusable dishes makes for a no-waste picnic. A sets of 20 reusable plastic crystal plates sells for under seven dollars at a local grocery store. These plates can be washed and reused over and over again. When no longer usable, these plastic plates can be placed in the City’s blue recycling bin. All types of plastic except plastic foam (Styrofoam) are accepted in the blue carts.

Another green alternative to Styrofoam is paper plates. Paper plates with minimal food debris can be placed in the recycling cart. If wet or heavily soiled, paper plates can be placed in backyard compost bins or in the garbage. Unlike Styrofoam or other plastics which never break down, paper plates in office settings is regular ceramic items. Several years ago, Watsonville City Hall staff purchased inexpensive used plates and mugs at the local Goodwill to keep in the kitchen area.

Styrofoam boogie boards and pool toys such as foam noodles are included in the ban unless the item is covered in a durable material. Medical supplies, meat trays and products packaged outside of Watsonville are exempt from the ban. Surf boards, boats and construction materials made with plastic foam are allowed as long as the foam is encased in a durable material.

Watsonville and its neighboring jurisdictions are in the national forefront of the effort to protect wildlife and reduce plastic litter. As home of the Monterey Bay Birding Festival, 200 bird species and six beautiful wetlands, Watsonville’s new ban on plastic foam takes us a big step forward in protecting wildlife and preventing litter.

If you have questions regarding the ban of sale of plastic foam, contact Nancy Lockwood, Environmental Projects Manager at 768-3103.