California Moves to Close Lid on Polystyrene Containers

Business Green

Media Contact: Danny Bradbury

New Bill Would Ban the Use of Polystyrene Packaging in an Attempt to Cut Marine Pollution

The Californian Senate has passed a landmark bill that could see the use of polystyrene packaging banned across the entire state.

The legislation builds on tens of district ordinances already prohibiting the use of the material, and could affect a wide range of different packaging techniques.

Bill SB 568, sponsored by Long Beach Democratic Senator Allen Lowenthal, calls for a ban on food vendors' use of polystyrene by 1 January 2014, and a ban on school districts using the material a year later.

Polystyrene does not biodegrade for hundreds of years, making it a flagship environmental issue for many conservation groups. The material can also float on water and has been widely blamed for harming marine wildlife.

However, polystyrene is recyclable and the bill makes a provision for school districts to continue to use the material where they have access to suitable recycling facilities.

A number of senators spoke out against the ban. District 14 Senator Tom Berryhill argued that the legislation would cost jobs, while restaurant owners maintained that polystyrene is an inexpensive insulator for food.

However, supporters of the bill insist that manufacturers of polystyrene could easily retool their factories to produce biodegradable alternatives.

In addition to being banned in tens of Californian municipalities, polystyrene has also been prohibited in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

The bill was passed 21-15 by senators this week, but still has to get through the Assembly before becoming law.

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