City of Del Mar Discusses Polystyrene Ban

Del Mar’s Sustainability Advisory Board is advocating for an ordinance banning the use of polystyrene foam food containers in the city. However, many are concerned that a foam ban would have negative financial effects on the city’s restaurants and small businesses. Rather than banning foam, clearing up misconceptions surrounding the packaging material and educating citizens about polystyrene recycling would be much more effective.

One of the misconceptions surrounding polystyrene foam is its link to Styrofoam. Though both polystyrene foam and Styrofoam are No. 6 plastics, Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, and is mainly used for insulation; polystyrene is often used for food packaging products.

Another misconception is that polystyrene foam can’t be recycled. That’s simply not true. Foam is recycled in areas across the country, and when it is recycled, polystyrene can be used to make items like rulers, surfboards, garden nursery trays, and picture frames. It’s also used in architectural molding and in eco-initiatives, such as alternative energy production and “green” buildings.

Foam recycling is a much more realistic and sustainable goal than a ban on foam. Polystyrene recycling reduces solid waste, decreases our dependence on virgin resources, prevents pollution, saves energy, protects the Earth’s atmosphere, and models sustainability for future generations.

A foam ban, on the other hand, would hurt schools, hospitals, and many restaurant owners across the city. The alternatives are simply too expensive—two to three times more expensive, in fact. Foam containers provide excellent insulation at a cost-effective price and save schools, businesses, consumers, and government agencies money. This leads to lower costs, creates more jobs, and fuels the local economy.

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