When was the last time you took home leftovers from a restaurant? Did you bring the extra food home in a Styrofoam container?
Styrofoam (a type of polystyrene plastic) is a popular material choice for to-go containers because it’s inexpensive and a good insulator. However, there’s a good chance that food vendors in California need to be more creative with their takeout containers in the near future.
California took one of the first steps towards banning food vendors from distributing #6 polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, trays, and clamshell containers last week. This law hopes to ban this type of plastic by 2014 in restaurants and 2015 in schools. Exceptions will be made if a business’s jurisdiction has recycling for #6 polystyrene plastic containers and 60 percent is recycled.
Because no law is perfect, there are some downsides to this change. If restaurants can’t use Styrofoam containers, it’s likely they will turn to paper—which, compared to Styrofoam, is a poor insulator, takes up more space in landfills, and requires more resources to produce. (Of course Styrofoam is also terrible—it takes hundreds of years to decompose and is toxic to wildlife.)
Reusable containers are always an option, but people will protest that.
In the comments below, tell us the last time you were given a Styrofoam takeout container.