On April 18, the City Council of Davis, CA will meet to review a ban on polystyrene foam. However, before they make a decision, they plan on hosting open workshops in order to bring business leaders and workers into the conversation, as a polystyrene ban would impact the way businesses and restaurants operate.
Polystyrene, not to be mistaken with the Dow Chemical-registered Styrofoam, is most often used for foodservice products like coffee cups, lids, plates, takeout containers, egg cartons, and meat trays.
There is a misconception that polystyrene foam cannot be recycled, but that is simply not the case. Foam is recycled in communities all across the country—including many cities and towns in California. When properly recycled, foam can be remade into picture frames, rulers, garden nursery trays, and other everyday products.
According to the proposal, plates, cups, bowls, take-out food clamshells, and other polystyrene products are all on the list of items to ban. But, the city would like to replace them with more expensive options that could cause local small businesses to suffer.
When a small business has to spend more money on these new products, they would either have to increase prices, or eat the sunken costs.
The same is true for schools. Districts across the country have been struggling with major budget cuts. The Davis Joint Unified School District is the second largest employer in the city. If cafeterias in any of the 15 schools were to spend more money on food containers, teachers and other key staff may be laid off. That money could be spent on better educational materials for the students.
Davis businesses should realize just how this ban would affect them negatively, and the local government should look for an alternative solution such as investing more into polystyrene recycling programs.