Huntington Beach considers ban on Styrofoam food containers

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Huntington Beach is considering a ban on Styrofoam food containers.

The Huntington Beach City Council is considering an ordinance Tuesday night that would ban restaurants from using disposable food containers made from expanded polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam.  

The city's ordinance would prohibit food vendors, including restaurants, and any person using City facilities or participating in a city event, from using polystyrene containers. 

The ordinance includes all containers designed for one-time use, including bowls, plates, trays and cups. The proposed ban includes takeout food containers and containers used for restaurant leftovers.

The California Restaurant Association, in a letter to the city, said the ordinance isn't needed and that polystyrene recycling programs are effective. Many small restaurant owners in Huntington Beach – from donut shops to pizza places - told the city that the cost of alternative products would force them to increase prices. A few said the ban might put them out of business.

In a letter in support of the ban, the Surfrider Foundation said expanded polystyrene foam takeout containers are rarely recycled because they're often soiled with food remains. The group says the containers are one of the top items collected during beach clean-ups.  

Bill Hickman with Surfrider said the polystyrene takes centuries to biodegrade and harms wildlife. He said there are more than 60 cities and counties in California that have restrictions or bans on the containers.

Supporters have said that as more municipalities ban the polystyrene foam food containers, the price of alternatives will drop over time.

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