Foam Food Container Ordinance Adopted by Council
The City of Sunnyvale has been studying the issue and impacts of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food and beverage containers on the environment. Included in the study was the option of an ordinance banning the use of foam containers by food vendors. At the December 18, 2012 City Council meeting, Council voted 7-0 to support an ordinance and on November 19, 2013, Council voted 6-0 at the second reading to adopt it. The effective date will be April 22, 2014 (Earth Day).
The ordinance includes:
The ordinance will make it unlawful for food service vendors to distribute expanded polystyrene foam food or beverage take-out containers. Examples of products that will be prohibited include: plates, cups, bowls, lids, trays, hinged containers and lidded containers. The ordinance exempts pre-packaged foods, such as eggs and meat sold in retail stores. Take-out containers still allowed for use would include non-foam plastics, aluminum, paper and containers that are compostable. As recommended by the Sustainability Commission, the proposal also includes an eventual ban on retail sales of EPS food containers at stores in Sunnyvale.
- Implementation of a ban on the use of expanded polystyrene food containers by retail food establishments after due diligence,
- Codifying the city's existing practice of no EPS food container use as part of city business, and
- Establishing a ban on all commercial sales of EPS food containers beginning April 22, 2015.
Foam food containers are known as "Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS)" or sometimes referred to as "Styrofoam."
Foam Food Container Facts:
- Foam food containers can break into pieces and be mistaken for food and ingested by wildlife.
- Foam food containers are made from non-renewable petrochemical resources and typically end up in landfills or as litter.
-The City of Sunnyvale, along with other Bay Area jurisdictions, has been tasked by regional water quality officials with reducing the amount of foam food containers and other trash pollutants in local waterways.
- Almost 50 jurisdictions in California have banned foam food take-out containers.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared that the material foam containers are made from, styrene, is "reasonably" anticipated to be a carcinogen.
- Less than one half of one percent (0.005) of foam food containers used for food service are actually recycled.
Is there anywhere to take EPS to be recycled?
Newby Island Recovery Park (1601 Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas) will accept expanded polystyrene (not peanuts) at no charge and process it for recycling. Make sure the foam meets Newby's specifications or call (408) 432-1234 for information.
RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) will accept foam blocks of any shape. Call (408) 451-1420 for details.
Green Citizen in Mountain View will accept foam of any shape or size, including peanuts, for a fee. Call (650) 493-8700 for more information.
Cities and counties in California that have already taken action to ban Foam Food Containers:
City of Alameda, City of Albany, City of Aliso Viejo, City of Belmont, City of Berkeley, City of Burbank, City of Burlingame, City of Calabasas, City of Carpenteria, City of Capitola, City of Carmel, City of Dana Point, City of Del Rey Oaks, City of Emeryville, City of Fairfax, City of Foster City, City of Fremont, City of Hayward, City of Half Moon Bay, City of Hercules, City of Huntington Beach*, City of Laguna Beach, City of Laguna Hills*, City of Laguna Woods*, City of Livermore, City of Los Angeles*, County of Los Angeles*, City of Malibu, County of Marin, County of Marina, City of Millbrae, County of Monterey, City of Monterey, City of Newport Beach, City of Oakland, County of Orange*, City of Ojai, City of Pacific Grove, City of Pacifica, City of Palo Alto, City of Pittsburg, City of Richmond, City of Redwood City, City of Salinas, City of Riverbank, City of San Bruno, City of San Carlos, City of San Clemente, City of San Leandro, City of San Rafael, City of Sausalito, City and County of San Francisco, City of South San Francisco* City of San Jose*, City of San Juan Capistrano*, County of San Mateo, County of Santa Clara, City of Santa Monica, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, City of Scotts Valley, City of Seaside, County of Sonoma, County of Ventura*,City of Watsonville, City of West Hollywood.
*Indicates ban only applies to government facilities or events.
Other cities and counties outside of California taking action:
Suffolk County, N.Y.
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