Encinitas City Hall received more than 800 petitions asking the city to drop a proposed ban on polystyrene foam food containers. However, the citywide ban passed on November 10.
Restaurant owners argue that the ban would cost them more money, in turn forcing them to raise prices for customers. Many restaurants use polystyrene foam containers because they are more durable and dependable than alternatives.
Garden State Bagels owner, Steve Amster, believes that a ban on polystyrene foam would cost him thousands of dollars, and he would either need to raise prices for his customers, or “eat the expense and keep making less.”
Amster thinks that a focused effort on polystyrene recycling is a much better solution than banning the material. “They need to place trash cans down at the beach, recycle cans,” said Amster.
Polystyrene foam—not to be confused with Styrofoam, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company used mostly for insulation—is commonly used for products like clamshell carryout containers, coffee cups, and lids. Polystyrene foam can be easily identified by the #6 symbol that is stamped on the products.
Foam is already recycled in areas across the country. Recycled polystyrene foam is used to make items like rulers, surfboards, garden nursery trays, and picture frames. Further, since polystyrene is a thermoplastic, it can be recycled over and over again.
Encinitas chemical engineer, Stephen Lord, feels that the ban is an overreaction. “I feel that much of this is wildly exaggerated,” he said. “I don’t feel the role of government is to impose these regulations on the minute areas of our life.”
This ban will undoubtedly hurt small business owners and unproductively shift the conversation away from recycling, an important and feasible alternative.