Citing the country’s economic conditions, California legislators have tabled Assembly Bill 1358 before it was due for a vote. The bill would have made California the first state to ban Styrofoam food containers.
There are already more than 20 cities in the Golden State that have outlawed Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) food containers. Styrofoam is a trademarked EPS product and is commonly used in take-out containers and coffee cups.
Assemblyman Jerry Hill pulled the bill from consideration, fearing a loss of jobs for California EPS manufacturers. The bill also had opposition from industry groups including the American Chemistry Council, the American Forest and Paper Association and the California Restaurant Association.
While EPS is often less expensive than other food containers such as cardboard, it is an end product meaning it can only be recycled into more Styrofoam. Recent research has found that a bacteria found in beetles can break down Styrofoam, but in a landfill it will typically break into smaller pieces instead of decompose.
For food containers, it’s difficult to find recycling options in the first place. Cardboard containers that come in contact with oils are generally not recyclable because oil can’t be removed during the recycling process. Many programs that accept plastic will only accept it in bottle form, which would restrict non-Styrofoam plastic food containers.