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Foam Free Advocates Push for Styrofoam Ban in San Luis Obispo

There are restrictions in more than 80 California cities or counties on the use of Styrofoam expanded polystyrene, or what many people know as Styrofoam™ or plastic foam.

On Tuesday at San Luis Obispo City Council meeting, council members were given a presentation on ordinances in other California cities. They could draft an ordinance.

Janine Rands, an advocate with SLO Foam Free, said, “Styrofoam are one of the worst forms of trash because it doesn’t decompose and it doesn’t degrade. When it gets so brittle it breaks into small pieces and it becomes impossible to pick up.

A study by the city shows some businesses switched to alternative containers, in order to be environmental conscious or because of customer demand, the study also showed but it did become more expensive.

Charles Myers, owner of Big Sky Caf, stopped using Styrofoam containers for his restaurant about 10 years ago.

“Its’ an item we couldn’t recycle,” Myers said.

Myers wants the city council to consider a ban.

“We were ahead on not smoking in restaurants, and we were ahead on plastic bags. We should be ahead on polystyrene.”

Styrofoam is difficult to recycle, and not all forms of it can be recycled. Some studies show it makes up nearly 90 percent of garbage found floating in the ocean, or on lakes.

Janine Rands, with SLO Foam Free, said, “Styrofoam food takeout containers cannot be recycled because it has food waste on it.”

According to the city’s study 40 percent of businesses in the city use expanded polystyrene (EPS) product.

Tawni Souza helps run her family business in downtown. She said her restaurant uses the product because it is inexpensive.

Souza’s mother is the owner if their restaurant, reading a text from her mother on the issue, Souza said, “She thinks that it’s another attempt to control business owners without giving us any choice but we would probably switch over for greener purposes.”

Mayor Jan Marx said she’s for some sort of Styrofoam container ban.

If the city council writes an ordinance it would take months of input from the community.

Fiscal impact, according to the city’s study:

It is estimated that the work to prepare an Ordinance using the traditional outreach and public engagement approach would be approximately 250 hours or $10,500 in staff and public outreach

Costs which can be absorbed through existing resources. Costs for implementation and ongoing enforcement are dependent on City Council direction and the scope of an adopted ordinance and may require additional resources.

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