Chicago Considers Ban on Foam To-Go Containers

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Chicago may soon become the latest city to ban the use of polystyrene foam in city businesses, based on a proposed ban that was presented to the City Council last week, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Polystyrene foam is difficult to recycle because of its light weight. Photo: Flickr/josh.liba

If passed, the ban would impose fines of $300 for the first offense and $500 for additional violations for businesses that distribute foam plastic.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is denouncing the ban, arguing that foam plastic is a less expensive form of packaging and businesses are already struggling financially. City Hall would be allowed to grant exceptions to businesses if there was “no alternative that is both affordable and compostable.”

Because polystyrene foam is so light (it is comprised of 97 percent air), it is easily carried by wind and water currents to all reaches of our planet, and its unsinkable nature makes it a main component of marine debris.

Chicago is not the only city that has implemented restrictions on expanded polystyrene. San Francisco outlawed the material in 2007, and now 22 other California towns have followed suit. California was considering a statewide ban on to-go containers last year but tabled the legislation due financial hardship.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger

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