By Jim Clark
Although the ordinance won’t take effect until May 2014, the days of getting your hot drinks and food to go in expanded polystyrene cups and containers are definitely numbered.
The Board of Alderman voted unanimously in favor of imposing the ban on polystyrene containers at their regular meeting last Thursday evening, after many months of study and debate.
Although the vote went completely in favor of the ban, the ordinance was not entirely free from controversy. Many food services companies and container manufacturers cited cost and inefficiency of polystyrene alternatives as having a negative impact on their profit margins and their ability to keep food and drinks hot and palatable for their customers.
It was also argued that polystyrene recycling programs could be implemented in place of imposing a full-scale ban. Proponents of the ordinance felt that the recycling approach was an impractical and unproven method for dealing with the Styrofoam waste issue.
The city intends to educate local businesses over the next year in ways to select alternative container materials.
Once the ban is in effect, businesses must eliminate the use of the Styrofoam containers or face fines of $300 per infraction. First offenders will be issued a warning, however.
The ban is primarily aimed at restaurants that package their goods for take out. It will not apply to uncooked foods like eggs and meat packaging.
Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz of Ward 6 said the she was thrilled with the passage of the ordinance. “I think that this is important.”