US city to ban polystyrene foam food packaging

28 August 2013 (Last Updated August 28th, 2013 18:30)

San Jose City Council has banned the use of polystyrene foam packaging for serving food, in an attempt to reduce waste and save money.

Foam containers

San Jose City Council has banned the use of polystyrene foam packaging for serving food, in an attempt to reduce waste and save money.

Restaurants and other local foodservice operators in the California city will stop using polystyrene foam foodservice packaging as part of the ban.

Polystyrene foodware does not break down as easily as paper and other takeaway packaging, and cutting it out will improve environmental and local water quality.

The council also claims that banning polystyrene will save money by reducing restaurant garbage collection rates.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said: "It's a step toward zero waste which is one of our long-term goals and it's good for the environment as well."

The ban starts in 2014 for multi-state restaurant chains and then the following year for other restaurants. Those that make under $300,000 are exempt from the ban.

Konjoe Burger Bar manager Joey camacho told ABC that his restaurant already uses paper containers, which are more costly than polystyrene.

"It's a cost that business should kind of bear. I think it's part of our social responsibility to just be more environmentally aware what we're doing," he added.

Polystyrene foam foodservice packaging represents 1.5% of litter, according to a 2012 national litter review.


Image: The council's initiative will leave the city with no plans for recycling nearly all types of foam packaging. Photo: courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.