Salinas will consider ban on polystyrene takeout boxes

August 16, 2011

The Salinas City Council will consider today whether to ban polystyrene “takeout” boxes, which tend to break up over time and leach out toxic chemicals, and are considered a major source of marine pollution and litter, environmentalists say. [The Salinas Californian]

If approved, the ordinance would go into effect in 180 days so that current supplies of polystyrene food packaging stored by local eateries can be used up.

Afterward, violators will face fines of $100.

Mayor Dennis Donohue said Monday he is supporting the ban.

“The concern, of course, is when this material breaks down and gets into the stormwater system and makes it out into the bay.

“It also gets into our fields and that could impact our number one industry here — agriculture,” said Donohue, who is a commercial grower of radicchio.

“A pretty clear consensus has emerged on this issue. I will be supporting the ordinance.”

If the city council passes the ordinance, Salinas will be one of the last cities in Monterey County to approve such a ban, which has garnered the support of the business community.

An earlier version of the ban in March was rejected by the city’s chamber of commerce because it also included plastic bags, which have become the target of bans approved in other cities throughout the state.

The state senate, meanwhile, voted to phase out the use of styrofoam containers by 2014. []

SB 568 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) would prohibit food vendors and restaurants from dispensing prepared foods to customers in polystyrene foam.

The bill would require food outlets to find  alternative packaging materials. The material has created one of California’s major pollution problems, according to environmentalists. The bill is making rounds through the legislature.

Assembly Appropriations will consider the bill on Wednesday.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I agree that the containers are unnecessary and they do leach many toxic chemicals into the environment and even into our food if we stick them into the microwave to reheat our leftovers. Tin containers are recyclable and so is cardboard..

On another note, I have to wonder if the next step is to require people to provide their own doggie bags at restaurants like they are doing with grocery bags. I don’t like the idea of banning grocery bags, seems that there could be a happy medium like charging us for them and then letting the kids return the bags to the grocery store (who will send them to recycling centers). How often do we see soda can’s lying around these day’s? Some people live off of collecting them for the refund. No doubt, grocery bag returns would be a big hit with young kids and the homeless and if we paid a deposit on them we wouldn’t be so quick to misuse them.