2 more Calif. cities restrict PS packaging
By Mike Verespej
Two more northern California
cities have banned the use of
polystyrene takeout food-service
packaging, but one of the bans
only applies to major city events.
Pacifica, a coastal town of
nearly 40,000 people located between San Francisco and Half
Moon Bay, voted unanimously
Nov. 9 to bar all city restaurants,
food vendors and grocery stores
from using any type of PS food-serviceware for prepared foods,
effective Jan. 1.
A day later, San Jose banned
the use of PS in takeout and beverage containers at events of
more than 1,000 people that are
held on city property, effective
May 1. That San Jose measure
also requires vendors at those
events to use PET beverage containers for drinks that are 7
ounces and larger, and paper
cups for drinks that hold less
than 7 ounces of liquid.
The Pacifica ban applies to all
PS containers, bowls, plates,
trays, cartons, cups, lids, straws,
forks, spoons, knives and any
other food-service item designed
for one-time or non-durable use.
It applies to prepared foods as
well as leftovers from partially
The law further mandates that
vendors must use biodegradable,
compostable, reusable or recyclable food-serviceware, and it encourages vendors to use reusable
food-service packaging for foods
consumed on premises. Ice
chests and coolers are exempt
from the ban.
Altogether, 26 California
towns and two counties have
banned PS takeout packaging,
most of them in northern California from the Monterey area to
just north of San Francisco. Five
cities and one county have
banned the use of PS takeout
packaging at city facilities or
On the East Coast, Boston is
considering a proposal introduced last month to ban PS takeout packaging at food-service establishments that have more
than 5,000 square feet or more
than five different locations in
The bans and proposed bans
on PS takeout packaging and
food-serviceware continue to escalate, despite an increasing
number of corporate initiatives
to recycle PS food packaging.
• Dart Container Corp. earlier
this month opened a drop-off location in Tumwater, Wash., for
consumers to recycle cups, takeout containers, egg cartons and
molded electronics packaging. It
is Dart’s ninth such location in
the U.S., and, ironically, located
50 miles south of Seattle, where
a ban on PS food-service packaging goes into effect July 1. In October, Dart opened a drop-off location in Horse Cave, Ky., near
Mammoth Cave National Park.
• Insurance company Aflac Inc.
purchased a 1-ton densifier earlier this month to compact PS cups
used at its claims processing and
call center in Columbus, Ga. The
foam recycling machine can compact 8,000 foam cups into 15-
inch-tall, 40-pound blocks that
will be shipped to Dart’s headquarters location in Michigan for
• Family-owned seafood
processor and distributor Pacific
Seafood, based in Clackamas,
Ore., near Portland, recycles
300,000 pounds of PS boxes annually, using a densifier to condense 50 containers used for
transporting seafood into a 2-
pound PS block. The PS is recycled into beads used for making
picture frames and moldings.
Kurt Mitchell, operations manager for Pacific Seafood’s North-
Altogether, 26 California towns and two
counties have banned PS takeout
packaging, most of them in northern
California from the Monterey area to
just north of San Francisco.
the blocks of compacted PS for
15-18 cents a pound. The initiative began in May 2008.
• In September, Maryville
Academy in Des Plaines, Ill.,
leased a densifier from Dart so
the school could recycle about
700,000 PS cups, plates and containers from its two campuses.
The densifier cost the school
roughly half of what it would cost
it annually to haul that volume of
PS packaging from its campus. ■
west operations, said the company recovered its investment for
the cost of the machine and the
shed, where it stores the densifi-
er, in 17 months. He said the
company has eliminated landfill
and hauling costs for the PS containers, and has been able to sell
Verespej is a reporter for Crain Communications’ Plastics News, a sister publication of Waste & Recycling News.
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