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San Jose Nears Ban on Polystyrene Foam

San Jose’s city council has approved a first reading of an ordinance that would phase out use of polystyrene foam packaging for food service.

The second reading likely will occur Sept. 10 and is expected to be routine, said David Vossbrink, director of communications for the city, in an e-mail.

If approved, the law would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2014, for national chain and large restaurants and a year later for all other food establishments. The ordinance was approved by a 9-2 vote, the Sacramento-based Californians Against Waste said on its website. San Jose would be the largest city in California to ban foam containers.

“This is a step towards reducing the amount of litter that ends up in our waterways and achieving our city’s long-term zero waste goals,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “We’ve developed an ordinance in San José that balances the environmental benefits with the needs of our local businesses, including provisions that offer a phased-in approach and a hardship exemption to minimize the potential impact on small restaurants.”

The Washington-based American Chemistry Council (ACC) said in its news release that the move will leave San Jose with no plans for recycling for nearly all types of foodservice and takeout packaging. Plastics makers have recommended to the city to increase recycling.

"This is a real step backward for recycling," said Tim Shestek, senior director of the ACC in Sacramento. "The city council's vote would lead to prohibiting packaging that's collected in curbside recycling programs elsewhere in California and replacing it with packaging that is thrown in the garbage."

ACC said San Jose directs residents to throw paper and other take-out packaging into the garbage, with the exception of clear plastic take-out containers.




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