This summer, a number of cities in the United States have passed Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) packaging legislation aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of those products in foodservice. In this post, we will examine the bans passed this summer affecting polystyrene takeout containers and cups, while offering a number of alternatives for impacted customers.
Local governments are becoming increasingly concerned with polystyrene foam in food packaging (although many argue that the effects of polystyrene foam on the environment are often overstated.) For a side by side comparison of polystyrene foam versus paper, check out our blog post: Foam or Paper? An Unbiased Comparison.
Foam No More
Within the last several months, the following cities have passed legislation pertaining to the use of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) foodservice products:
Mendocino County, California:
Beginning March 1, 2015, Retail Food Establishments and Food Providers will be prohibited from using polystyrene foam to hold food. All county facilities will also be prohibited from using this type of foodservice ware. Click here for the full ordinance.
Starting April 15, 2015. This ban includes meat trays and egg cartons, but excludes foam trays used for seafood. There are no exemptions for restaurants. For more information, please click the link here (Tab 24).
This ban on polystyrene containers begins in 2016 and exempts meat trays. Click here for more information on the bill.
Effective in April 2015, the ban prohibits EPS foam, as well as #6 polystyrene containers. At the same time, another ban will be lifted, allowing food sales facilities to have on-site composting bins. (See below for a news clip from Minnesota regarding the impending ban.)
Green Alternatives to Polystyrene
The goal of these bans is to encourage businesses to use food packaging material that is biodegradable, lessening the impact on the environment. Restaurants and foodservice facilities will be forced to be in compliance according to their municipalities, which means replacing the lower-cost foam items with approved alternatives such as paper or plastic products. Some greener alternatives to polystyrene products include:
Darnel Naturals Pulp Products is a line of 100% compostable pulp products with grease resistant properties, making it ideal for greener take-out. The line includes both clamshell containers and segmented trays.
Genpak’s Harvest line is dedicated exclusively to sustainable food packaging. The Harvest Fiber products are all Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified compostable and are made from annually renewable resources. This line also includes clamshell containers for take-out meals.
Greenware by Fabrikal is a substitute for foam cups that are used for cold drinks. The cups are manufactured with PLA (a plant-based plastic) and are BPI certified compostable. They come in a variety of sizes, and include multiple lid options. Another Greenware product is the compostable On-The-Go Box, available with up to four compartments with one universal lid.
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