California is About to Ban Styrofoam. Good Riddance.


Photo credit: Dan Century via Flickr/CC BY-SA

California's state Senate just voted to ban the sale of Styrofoam containers. The bill would prevent restaurants and shops from distributing food in foam containers -- Californian's takeout and sodas will have to be sold in more sustainable, or ideally, reusable containers. Some 50 municipalities in the state have already enacted such bans. If the measure passes the state Assembly, it will make California the first in the nation to ban the loathsome material. And yes, the stuff is pretty loathsome indeed, environmentally speaking. It takes forever to biodegrade, it clogs up waterways, and wildlife mistake it for food and ingest it. As regular readers know, I'm fond of saying that the material simply has no place in the modern era.

The LA Times has more on the ban:

Sandwiches, milkshakes and other food items frequently packaged in foam takeout containers will have to be packaged in other materials under a bill that cleared the state Senate on Thursday. SB 568 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) would prohibit food vendors and restaurants from dispensing prepared foods to customers in polystyrene foam beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Expanded polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, is a lightweight plastic that, when littered, is often carried from streets through storm drains into the ocean.

Of course, there are the usual protests from industry, which posit that banning the material will displace jobs. There's no easy way around that, save for the fact that the producers of more sustainable forms of packaging will indeed create new jobs. It's too bad that some people's livelihoods depend on the production of a destructive, outmoded material -- ideally, as the ban phases them out, a bridge can be offered to those in the industry to more sustainable packaging jobs.

This is something that I'd like to see more consideration given to in general -- public-private partnerships that can offer those employed in an unsustainable, archaic industry (coal, Styrofoam, disposable plastics, et al) ladders to jobs in those industries' more sustainable counterparts (clean energy, reusable container manufacturers, etc).

But for now, suffice to say that it's high time Styrofoam be given the boot.

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More on Styrofoam
GOP Cancels Biodegradable Packaging, Brings Styrofoam Back
San Francisco Bans Styrofoam for To-Go Containers

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