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article imageCalifornia could be first state to ban Styrofoam containers

By Andrew Moran     Aug 29, 2011 in Politics
Oakland - California State Senator Alan Lowenthal has introduced a bill that would ban grocery stores, restaurant owners and other businesses from selling food in polystyrene containers, otherwise known as Styrofoam.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans dispose more than 25 billion Styrofoam cups every year and majority of them will end up in a landfill 500 years from now.
A new bill, if passed, would prohibit grocery stores, restaurants and vendors to sell food in Styrofoam containers as of the year 2016. The ban would make California the first state to implement a statewide prohibition on polystyrene containers – more than 50 cities and counties already have comparable bans.
The legislation’s author, Democratic State Senator Alan Lowenthal, argues that foam containers are the most common form of litter and debris found on city streets, beaches and sewers. He explains that cleaning up Styrofoam containers costs millions of dollars.
“It's not biodegradable, it's not compostable, and if it's in the water for a long time, it breaks up into small beads and lasts for thousands of years,” said Lowenthal. “It costs millions to clean up beaches.”
Lowenthal’s law, SB 568, would only affect polystyrene containers and not packaging, which is more recycled due to not having to clean food residue off of it prior to melting it down and recasting it as any item.
The legislation has support from dozens of organizations, including the Breast Cancer Fund, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Power Source Café, Sierra Club California and many others.
Opponents of the bill argue that it does not address the real issue of those who actually litter. Furthermore, restaurant owners say this law could cost them thousands of dollars in profits because they are already used to serve takeout food.
“We put cheese on those omelets. And when we put the cheese on, it's really hot and bubbly and it goes right through the biodegradable stuff,” said Gary Honecutt, owner of BJ’s Kountry Kitchen, who said in an interview with the Associated Press that his costs would more than double if the law is approved.
A coalition of California businesses also says in a press release that the bill will kill 8,000 jobs in the state.
This isn’t the first time that a ban is being debated on. In 2009, according to the Capitol Weekly, state lawmakers proposed a ban on polystyrene, non-recyclable plastic or non-recyclable paper containers.
It did not make it out of the state legislature, but was endorsed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
More about California, styrofoam contains, styrofoam ban, Alan Lowenthal, Polystyrene ban
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