State Senate OKs bill banning Styrofoam food containers

A proposal in the Legislature that would ban dispensing prepared food in foam containers in California after Jan. 1, 2014, has passed the state Senate and is now in the Assembly.

Central Coast state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, voted for the bill, one of only a handful of Republicans to do so.

The idea behind the ban is to curb littering of containers made of Styrofoam or other polystyrene foam in streams and the ocean. School districts would get an extra year to comply.

Miriam Gordon of the environmental activist group Clean Water Action recently wrote to the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper that, “because it’s lightweight and breaks apart easily into small pieces, expanded polystyrene is pervasive in the marine environment.”

She claims it accounts for 15 percent of litter collected in storm drains, “and from there makes its way into our waterways and on our beaches.”

About 50 local governments in California have banned use of these containers.

The food industry has fought the ban, saying it could kill jobs by increasing costs and hurt business.

However, Gordon, writing in the Sentinel, argued that the legislation “will drive the demand for the emerging sustainable food container industry, creating jobs and incentivizing the expansion of manufacturing alternative products right here in California.”

The Assembly is expected to vote on the bill later this summer.