It was recently requested by a group of residents that the San Luis Obispo City Council consider a ban on Styrofoam food containers. While SLO has been a leader in the environmental arena, and this is a worthy cause, we should stop and pause for a moment and consider the literally millions of Styrofoam lunch trays being used in our county’s schools each year.
The amount of Styrofoam used by restaurants is only a fraction of that which is consumed by K-12 schools. The difficulty in simply changing becomes a matter of economics. Styrofoam is a fraction of a cent versus alternatives that are more than a cent. When multiplied over millions of trays, this is literally tens of thousands of dollars per district even when offset by disposal of recycling versus landfilling.
This is a worthy path to pursue. However, I call on people to come up with ways to fund alternatives in our schools and to shift to a culture of reuse, which is the ultimate answer both in our schools and for restaurant containers.