The U.S. House Votes to Keep Foam Cups as the ‘Job Killer’ Bill Re-emerges in California

California dusts off bill SB 568 to initiate a statewide foam ban while the Federal government has begun to realize the benefits of Styrofoam® products. On June 8, the U.S. House vetoed a bill that would have removed foam from the majority of the Capitol’s cafeterias, food carts, and eateries. Drawing closely along party lines in a 179-229 vote split, this show of support for foam products is the latest installment of the Federal government’s battle over eco-living issues calling attention to a new understanding of foam products’ benefits [1].

The overall benefits of foam products have recently begun to outpace their paper-counterparts. Due to new studies, polystyrene products have emerged as superior to paper in many areas, including efficiency to manufacture and effectiveness for food storage. Contrary to popular belief, paper cups use more raw materials to manufacture and can use up to 36 times more electricity during the manufacturing process than foam cups [2]. Paper cups can also produce more trash for local landfills due to consumers needing extra layers, such as cardboard sleeves, to insulate against hot or cold liquids.

The news of the Capitol’s foam victory comes on the heels of the re-emergence of California’s infamous ‘Job Killer’ bill (SB 568), which looks to instate a statewide California foam ban that would hurt manufacturing workers and small business owners. The bill would eliminate food vendors from using polystyrene products as well as put unrealistic mandates on polystyrene manufacturers, thereby threatening thousands of jobs for local workers [3].

Failing to pass the Assembly in 2011, the bill is being championed by Democratic State Senator Alan Lowenthal, who cites reducing landfill waste as the impetus for the bill’s second life. However, opponents of the bill find flaws with Senator Lowenthal’s methodology, stating that focusing on a single form of waste doesn’t significantly reduce landfill size, and instead only serves to handicap one sector of the manufacturing industry, therefore putting workers out of jobs.

It was the recognition of the long-term benefits of foam products that finally drove the House’s decision to retain polystyrene, but this won’t be the end to Federal or State government’s bickering about the material. Unfortunately it’s manufacturing workers of California who may ultimately get caught in the crossfire.

Sources:

  1. House Votes to Keep Foam Cups
  2. Foam Cups vs. Paper Cups
  3. SB 568 – The Job Killer
SB 568 California