San Francisco has approved a wide-ranging ban on expanded polystyrene products.
The ban, which was introduced in April to broaden an existing ban on EPS food-service products, was approved unanimously last week by the City’s Board of Supervisors. Taking effect Jan. 1, 2017, the ban will cover EPS packaging, cups, plates and more, making it the nation’s most aggressive municipal policy toward limiting use of the material.
San Francisco, which has a goal of achieving zero waste by 2020, does not currently accept EPS in its curbside program, but several drop-off options currently exist in and around the city to collect and recycle the material. According to a database maintained by foam manufacturer Dart Container, drop-off sites are the most common collection approach for EPS products.
A feature in the May 2016 print edition of Plastics Recycling Update, explored the advances some communities, including Denver, are making to incorporate foam into their curbside programs.
In comments submitted to San Francisco leaders, various groups argued the City’s ban was not necessary.
“Product bans are not in alignment with zero waste,” the EPS Industry Alliance stated. “Material substitution does not guarantee waste elimination. Nor does it ensure the alternative materials will be better for the environment.”
The legislation approved in San Francisco calls EPS “an environmental pollutant” and suggests the material “cannot be recycled through San Francisco’s recycling collection program and is otherwise difficult or impossible to recycle, and is not compostable.”
Last year a prolonged battle brewed over an attempt to ban EPS food-service products in New York City. City leaders passed the policy, but it was later shot down in court.