LB Councilman / Congressional Candidate Gary DeLong: I Oppose SB 568 (Discourages Styrofoam Food Containers, Includes Recycling Proviso) Because...
|Editor's note: Text of Legislative Counsel's digest: "SB 568...would prohibit a food vendor, on and after January 1, 2016, from dispensing prepared food to a customer in a polystyrene foam food container and would define related terms. The bill would provide that a food vendor that is a school district is not required to comply with the bill's requirements until July 1, 2017, and would allow a food vendor that is a school district to dispense prepared food to a customer in a polystyrene foam food container after that date if the governing board of the school district elects to adopt a policy to implement a verifiable recycling program for polystyrene foam food containers, which would be renewable, as specified. The bill would also allow a food vendor to dispense prepared food to a customer in a polystyrene foam food container after January 1, 2016, in a city or county if the city or county elects to adopt an ordinance establishing a specified recycling program for polystyrene foam food containers, which would be operative, as specified. The bill would allow a food vendor to dispense prepared food to a
customer in a polystyrene foam food container in a city or county if
that food vendor demonstrates to the satisfaction of the city or
county that compliance with the requirements of the bill would impose
an undue economic hardship, as defined. The bill would authorize a
city or county to exempt the food vendor until January 1, 2017, or
for a period of not more than one year from the date of the
demonstration, and would allow a food vendor to reapply for
additional one-year exemptions from the bill's requirements."
(Aug. 28, 2012) -- Recently there has been debate about a proposed Styrofoam ban, SB 568, sponsored by Alan Lowenthal. While we all support a greener, more sustainable environment, itís important to ask whether the benefits outweigh the costs of this proposal.
Municipalities have been investing in recycling programs which has created new "green collar" jobs sector. In Long Beach, we recycle Styrofoam via the purple bin recycle containers everyone has access to. The Natural Environment Protection Company (NEPCO), which manufactures picture frames using post-consumer foam, has grown to 35 employees and tripled the size of its building. This company will go out of business with a Styrofoam ban. Additionally, a ban would shutter two Dart Industries plants that employ approximately 1,000 employees in Fresno and Corona, thereby laying off all 1,000 of those employees.
Estimates of the cost of transitioning to alternative products show overhead costs will increase up to $4,000 per year per restaurant -- one key reason the California Restaurant Association opposes the bill.
Furthermore, restaurateurs are concerned about the effectiveness of alternative containers. Non-polystyrene containers do not insulate food as well as polystyrene containers do, so hot food items wonít stay hot, and cold food items donít stay cold. Another concern is the integrity of the paper-based containers, which often leach hot liquid, an undesirable development for both businesses and consumers. In fact, I met with a small business owner earlier today who told me she has tried the alternative products but they just donít work as well. When the technology improves and the cost is competitive, sheíd love to move to a more sustainable product.
Finally, the proposed ban is opposed by numerous Democrat and Republican elected officials alike, including Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who will likely replace Alan Lowenthal as Long Beachís state Senator.
I am pro-environment. Iíve had solar panels on my home for years, and have driven a hybrid car the last several years.
But in this case, is the juice worth the squeeze?
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