August 31, 2011
Lawmakers in California are on the verge of passing historic legislation that would make the state the first in the nation to ban Styrofoam containers. The bill would prohibit restaurants, grocery stores and other vendors from packaging food in polystyrene containers, commonly known as Styrofoam. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans throw away 25 billion foam cups every year. The author of the Styrofoam ban bill (SB 568) says litter from foam containers is one of the most common forms of trash found in city streets, sewers and beaches. State Senator Alan Lowenthal says foam is not biodegradable or compostable and if it breaks up in the water it can last for thousands of years.
The proposed ban on foam containers would exempts school districts and communities that recycle at least 60 percent of their foam waste. Environmental advocates say when foam breaks into small pieces it is easily mistaken for food by wildlife and marine animals. Styrofoam contaminated with food residue is also difficult to recycle. The California Chamber of Commerce says the bill threatens manufacturing jobs while increasing costs for restaurants.
More than 50 California cities and counties already have similar bans. The proposed statewide ban passed the appropriations committee and is headed to the Assembly floor for a vote. You can help reduce the amount of foam and polystyrene in the environment by choosing reusable serving items instead of disposable. For more information watch this Do Your Part video for tips on greener ways to entertain.