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California Coastal Towns Banning Foam Take-out Containers

styrofoam-containers2A growing number of California coastal communities have banned the use of polystyrene take-out containers by restaurants.

Palo Alto’s ban on the containers takes effect April 22, 2010, reports PlasticsNews.

The ban extends to containers, clamshells, bowls, plates, cartons and cups, but not straws, utensils or hot cup lids.

Palo Alto is the 23rd California city to ban PS take-out packaging. San Francisco was among the first major cities to adopt the trend in 2007. Even outside of California, Seattle enacted a ban Jan. 1.

In Janurary, the Palo Alto Recycling Center ceased accepting PS packaging peanuts, as well as foam used in packaging of items like televisions and computers. Dart Corp. had offered to purchase a densifier for Palo Alto, to help the city recycle the take-out containers and bulk foam chunks.

But the Palo Alto city council stated that the low markets for recycled foam reduced the incentive for recycling PS. The council released a statement: “Ongoing logistical challenges and quality control challenges related to the minimal recycling material for expanded polystyrene make even the recycling program for peanuts and blocks infeasible.”

The Green Restaurant Association has a guide to green products for restaurateurs, including take-out containers available here (PDF). The guide also includes products such as bathroom tissue, hand dryers, plates, sinks and water filtration systems.

As cities ban the use of PS take-out containers, corporations are finding ways to recycle foam packaging.

For instance, Wal-Mart Canada has launched a recycling program that sees used Styrofoam packaging from eight Wal-Mart locations going to Grace Canada for reuse in the production of commercial insulation.

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