First it was plastic bags. Now the city of San Jose wants to declare death to all Styrofoam to-go containers.
The city’s Transportation and Environmental Committee approved a proposal Monday to have the City Council consider banning expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeout boxes in all restaurants. The proposal will go to the City Council in February. If accepted, EPS boxes will no longer be allowed in large restaurants as early as October 2013, as Councilmember Sam Liccardo’s memo recommends.
City staff has recommended that the ban, if approved, go into effect for large restaurants in January 2014 and other restaurants by 2015.
“This proposal has been discussed for years and it’s time to go forward,” said Liccardo, who chairs the Transportation and Environment committee.
Liccardo has included in his proposal several findings from a study on costs and effects of the ban. The proposal states that the costs for restaurants to switch from EPS to non-EPS would be “minimal,” roughly 1 to 3 cents. The proposal also argues that there is no way to effectively recycle EPS foodware due to food contamination.
To date, the proposal adds that since San Jose instituted its plastic bag ban in January, the number of plastic bags found in the city’s storm drains has decreased by 89 percent. River and creek cleanups show a 60 percent decrease in bags found, and bags found on city streets are down by 59 percent.
An EPS ban was supposed to coincide with the plastic bag ban that went into effect last January. The EPS ban was pushed back last December when DART—an EPS manufacturer—offered the city $100,000 to delay a decision for further studies. The council did not end up taking DART’s money, but it did delay a decision.
Similar to San Jose taking the lead on banning plastic bags, the city would also be one of just two municipalities in Santa Clara County that bans EPS—Palo Alto is the other. Sunnyvale is considering a ban at its Dec. 18 City Council meeting.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that San Jose would be the only city in Santa Clara County with a ban on EPS if approved by the council. San Jose Inside regrets the error.