Though many of the large fast food chains ditched Styrofoam containers many moons ago, there are still plenty of restaurants that continue to use Styrofoam for packing up to-go orders for customers. But a bill before the California State Assembly could put an end to that in the Golden State.
“It’s not biodegradable, it’s not compostable, and if it’s in the water for a long time, it breaks up into small beads and lasts for thousands of years. It costs millions to clean up beaches,” says State Senator Alan Lowenthal, the bill’s author.
More than 50 California cities and counties already have bans on Styrofoam containers, but California would be the first to outlaw the containers statewide.
There are some conditions in the legislation that would allow the continued use of Styrofoam for a handful of folks. For example, a school district can keep on using polystyrene if it implements a program to recycle more than 60% of its foam waste.
Proponents of the ban say it will save millions on cleanup of Styrofoam litter from California roads, parks and beaches. But opponents say it will cost businesses even more money in the form of alternative packaging that doesn’t perform as well as polystyrene.
And, says an exec from Dart Container, a manufacturer of Styrofoam containers, litterbugs won’t stop leaving their trash around just because you change the material: “At the end of the day, people that litter don’t care what type of product they’re littering.”