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Case Studies

The issue of expanded polystyrene foam pollution in aquatic environments has been recognized, debated, and legislated for decades.  Municipal and regional legislation around preventing EPS pollution has increased greatly in the past decade. In this section, we present a summary review of how the EPS dock float issue has been addressed in subnational jurisdictions in the United States and Canada.

State of Washington

Bill 2013-5546 mandated the encapsulation of dock flotation materials in marine and freshwater environments. The timing of the bill coincided with an increase in public concern around marine debris pollution following the 2011 Japanese Tsunami.

Misty Forest Reflection

State of Oregon

OAR 250-010-0700-0715 from 1992, is an early bill mandating encapsulation of all polystyrene floats in aquatic environments. The measure met with mixed success, and in 2019 the existing regulations were strengthened to include more durable and thicker encapsulation requirements. 

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

City of San Francisco

Ordinance 140-16 (2016), a complete local ban on the use of polystyrene, encapsulated or unencapsulated, in aquatic systems. Limited in scope: city jurisdiction includes only waterways controlled by the city which, in California, does not include marine docks over State-owned tidelands.

Province of Ontario

Bill 228 implemented in 2021, after significant pressure from activist groups, the Province of Ontario passed legislation mandating encapsulation of newly-installed polystyrene floats. No timeline for replacement or explicit guidelines for encapsulation materials were provided.

Calm Lake

Pender Harbor, British Columbia

BCMFLNRORD 2018, Pender Harbor Dock Management Plan, update on 2021. After a consultation process, the Province of BC and the Shíshálh First Nation agreed to a management plan for Pender Harbor, with the final compromise agreement requiring encapsulation of polystyrene and lifecycle replacement of existing unprotected floats.

Forest Lake

To find out more about these case studies and the use of polystyrene on docks you can have a look at our resources page

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