- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minneapolis City Council has voted to step up enforcement of a decades-old ordinance that bans restaurants and other businesses from using polystyrene containers.

The City Council voted Friday that it would lower the fine for violators, but step up enforcement, the Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1kdGRpG ). City Council member Andrew Johnson said the move could mean that the white foam containers could be out of the city’s waste stream for good.

He said city health and food inspectors hadn’t been checking for the banned packaging consistently, and now they will be required to. The public can also report violations.

The Minneapolis ordinance, which also legalizes compostable food containers, will take effect next Earth Day, April 22.

The move affects local restaurants and other establishments that use polystyrene. The material is not recycled because it is too hard to clean and the market for it is small.

Johnson, who sponsored the measure, estimated there could be as many as 10 million polystyrene containers in Minneapolis‘ trash each year.

Although commonly referred to as Styrofoam, that brand of polystyrene foam isn’t used in food packaging, according to its manufacturer, Dow Chemical Co.

The measure requires that restaurants offer to-go customers food in containers that are easily recyclable or compostable. Prepackaged food by manufacturers would be excluded.

Restaurants and other food sellers will also be required to provide recycling bins and composting bins. The recyclable bin requirement is another that has been long overlooked, Johnson said.

City Council member Cam Gordon said health department employees are available to help with the transition, and funding is available through Hennepin County grants and city loans.

At a public hearing earlier this month, some opponents who represent the packaging industry told council members the ordinance would take away consumer choice. They also said recycling polystyrene foam is possible.

Dozens of cities nationwide have already banned polystyrene containers.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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