State Senator Alan Lowenthal has introduced a bill in the California legislature that would prohibit food vendors from using styrofoam packaging to dispense food to a customer in all cities that did not come up with a recycling program by 2014. It is supported by several environmental groups, who say that foam products make up 15% of all litter in California. The sponsors also say it will create jobs in the form of new facilities for alternative packaging production. The bill passed the senate last week and now moves to the assembly.

Opponents argue that this bill will cause the closure of several plants that manufacture styrofoam packaging and losses in jobs, and that any new packaging needs will likely be outsourced to facilities outside the state. The real environmental problem, they argue, comes from the styrofoam used to package items for shipping, such as televisions and other electronics. They also point out that the state has created easy ways for citizens to recycle other post-consumer containers such as paper, aluminum, and glass, and that they could easily do the same for styrofoam. Notably, at least one of the plants that may be threatened by the bill also manufactures styrofoam packaging used to ship wine.

To follow the bill’s progress, go to the Legislative Counsel’s Bill Information Website, and type in bill number 568.


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