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San Jose, Calif., set to vote on PS ban

By: Jeremy Carroll

August 26, 2013

San Jose, Calif., may become the largest U.S. city to ban polystyrene foam containers for food service.

The City Council is expected to take up the issue at its Aug. 27 meeting, and the proposal is recommended for passage by city administration. The City Council voted earlier this year to study the impact of a ban.

According to the proposed ordinance, the law would ban national food vendors from providing PS containers starting Jan. 1, 2014, and other food vendors from giving customers PS containers starting Jan. 1, 2015. The law also allows for a financial hardship clause that could delay the implementation of the ban for specific restaurants.

In a letter to the City Council, Mayor Chuck Reed and council members Sam Liccardo and Rose Herrera pushed for the passage of the measure saying it would help reduce stormwater trash and get the city closer to its zero-waste goal. The ban would also have ripple effects outside of the city, he said.

"As with the plastic bag ban, if San Jose can show the necessary leadership, nearly every jurisdiction in the South Bay will join in improving the quality of our creeks, streams and bay by adopted a phase-out of [PS]," the trio wrote. "Let's begin that worthy endeavor."

The California Restaurant Association has pushed back against the bill, saying the city has ignored family-owned restaurants throughout the process.

"Restaurant owners want to see smart recycling options here similar to other cities across the state," said Javier Gonzalez, Government Affairs Director for the association, in a statement. "Instead, the council seems intent on passing a measure that will grab headlines and do nothing to reduce landfill waste."