Deadline looms for SLO businesses seeking exemption to Styrofoam ban

Food packaging made from polystyrene foam.
Food packaging made from polystyrene foam.

Business owners wanting to apply for a one-time, one-year exemption to San Luis Obispo’s ban on the use of expanded polystyrene food and drink containers — also called Styrofoam — have until Nov. 1 to file an application.

The new rules, approved by the City Council on June 16, go into effect Jan. 1. They also ban the retail sale of Styrofoam products not covered with a more durable material.

Food providers can apply for the one-year exemption if switching to alternative products is unaffordable or an alternative is unavailable. A business owner must provide documentation that an alternative product would cost at least 15 percent more.

More than 80 cities in California have similar regulations. The San Luis Obispo council decided to pursue an ordinance after SLO Foam Free, a coalition of groups and individuals in the city, urged the council in March 2014 to pass a ban.

Officials say the ban on expanded polystyrene, which isn’t biodegradable, meets an objective in the city’s Climate Action Plan that calls for increasing the use of recycled food containers.

Businesses can apply online and learn more about the ordinance at www.slocity.org/eps.