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foam food containers

Industry Attacks San Francisco’s Styrofoam Ban

foam food containersSan Francisco supervisors have adopted the most extensive Styrofoam ban in the US.

The new citywide law, approved unanimously on Tuesday night, bans the sale of polystyrene foam as of Jan 1,2017. It includes everything from foam egg cartons and packing peanuts to ice chests and beach toys.

Companies that violate the foam ban face fines starting at $100 for the first violation and increasing up to $500 for the third and subsequent violation.

The ban strengthens San Francisco’s earlier 2007 law that prohibited serving food in polystyrene. While San Francisco was one of the first major cities to restrict foam packaging, more than 100 US cities now have either banned or limited polystyrene.

Board of supervisors president London Breed who introduced the legislation said polystyrene cannot be recycled in San Francisco, it never biodegrades and pollutes waterways. “The science is clear: this stuff is an environmental and public health pollutant, and we have to reduce its use,” Breed said. “There are ample cost effective alternatives to Styrofoam on the market.”

While environmentalists cheered the legislation, some industry groups expressed concern over the ban.

“I’m appalled,” said Betsy Steiner, spokeswoman for EPS Alliance, which represents manufacturers who make packaging materials out of Styrofoam and polystyrene, told NBC. “We’re opposed to the plan. There are serious errors in their statistical representation.”

She said her group may take legal action against San Francisco.

She said her group is considering whether to take any legal action against San Francisco, and is worried it will inspire similar legislation in other areas.

The California Grocers Association also expressed concerns and pushed for more time to find alternatives to Styrofoam.

The California Restaurant Association has opposed polystyrene and other packaging bans across the state because it says alternative packaging costs two to three times as much as polystyrene products, which also performs better.

“The CRA believes that further expansion of foam recycling efforts and infrastructure is a better approach than a single discriminatory ban on a given type of packaging,” the group said in a statement. “Some localities that have banned foam food containers are now setting their sights on the next packaging material to eliminate, creating constant unpredictability for the industry in terms of what packaging material may be available on the market.

The recyclability of polystyrene foam has been a hot topic in New York City, which had banned foam foodservice items before the the New York State Supreme Court overturned the foam ban, saying that EPS is recyclable and calling the ban “arbitrary and capricious.”

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3 thoughts on “Industry Attacks San Francisco’s Styrofoam Ban

  1. If the CRA and industry believe styrofoam is so easily recycled, they should then take responsibility for recycling it in an extended producer responsibility framework. Why should government have to expand recycling for these difficult-to-manage products? (SF actually tried and it didn’t work because the material has to be so clean.) It’s interesting when industry doesn’t want government to meddle, until they want someone to clean up their mess. Take some responsibility.

  2. I agree with the comment ‘take some responsibility’ but USA doesn’t do that. Millions of innocents murdered or starved to death under US sanctions are uncounted ‘collateral damage’. Its historically criminal central bank pretends to be ‘climate change conscious’ giving advice whilst itself ‘lending’ sums which nations can never repay then demanding deforestation to ‘agriculturalise’ (thus Ebola came from the jungle decades ago) creating massive erosion, mining and oil exploration disrupting villages which not only get no benefit but are treated like dirt…It’s not ‘government’ which pays, they just get fat and rich and via “Congress” support genocidal psychopaths like “Netenyahu” and Bush, Rumsfeld, and that lot so upported by the latest Bilderbergerkinder Clinton and Trump, put there to pretend one has choice when both are owned and both support the Israeli genocide and pollution of Gaza….It’s the taxpayer who pays.Things have to change if we are to clean up our act…….. people get hurt in change, something quite unfair for the everyday workers paid pittance and really, the taxpayer who bales-out companies who have made money from polluting the world is pretty patient. Unfortunately the precautionary principle is little invoked when “the market” smells profit. In this case I think the ‘wrong statistics’ is just humbug. This has nothing to do with statistics for or against, this is to do with survival of marine life already tottering on extinction, birds and us. If they go we go….and that’s a good enough reason for me to have styrofoam banned and any other polluter banned. Dealing with the tragic unemployment of the innocents ..well that should be easy in “the world’s richest Nation” that can spend trillions on exterminating people (and ecosystems) and polluting the world with airplane fuels, military fumes, gases, smoke. nerve gas (Washington supplied it for the killing of the Kurds) , chemicals cluster bombs and the like, despoiling entire regions, has an average wage of about $4/hour for maybe 10 to 20 hours/week for the poor. Perhaps asset stripping the companies and getting some contributions from the directors to help out?..They ‘didn’t know”…don’t make me laugh!!…Hopefully I have raised some other pollution issues and global practices that also should be banned.

  3. The EPS industry does take responsibility, offering recycling services at most of our manufacturing facilities and working diligently with recycling companies and communities to facilitate polystyrene collection. Currently polystyrene is included in more than 50 curbside collection programs in California alone.
    In the 1990’s the polystyrene industry opened two (2) reprocessing facilities in California but had to close them only 12-15 years later because Californians only wanted to complain about it but not participate in the material collection and recycling. Industry cannot magically collect the material. Like all other materials, it needs to be segregated. The LA Unified School District was a long standing participant but other school districts just couldn’t be bothered. The same stands for San Francisco. Recology HAS a polystyrene densifier but simply don’t want to recycle it. They say it’s because they can’t collect enough material – contrary to the Board of Supervisors adamant claim that polystyrene is a significant pollutant. The U.S. EPA says polystyrene is 7/10ths of 1 percent of the waste stream by volume. We are wondering how come San Francisco got more than its share?

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