The city of Santa Monica’s take-out food container program has been awarded the 2010 Outstanding Waste Prevention Award from the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA).

City officials say the non-recyclable plastic disposable food service container ban, in place since February 2007, is protecting the beaches and bay without limiting the array of take-out food choices.

The program prohibits local restaurants from using non-recyclable food containers, including those made from Styrofoam, because officials say these products end up as one of the main components of beach and marine litter.—Restaurants have responded positively by switching to recyclable plastic, paper and compostable containers, which helps keep waste off the beaches and out of the landfills, city officials noted.

“We are excited to receive this award for what has been an incredibly successful program,” said Dean Kubani, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “Santa Monica’s restaurants and their patrons have embraced it and it has helped create a market for more environmentally friendly food packaging.—And it has now become a model for programs in other cities throughout the country.”

Julie Muir, CRRA president, added, “Between the initiatives of local government, federal agencies, non-profits, individuals and small private businesses it’s no wonder California is a leader in resource conservation, and well on its way toward zero waste.”

In 1990 California passed Assembly Bill 939, mandating all cities and counties to divert 50 percent of their waste from landfills by 2000, and since then many jurisdictions have adopted zero waste goals.

Santa Monica representatives will be on hand to receive the award presented at the CRRA’s annual conference in Sacramento Thursday, Aug. 12.