A coastal California municipality enacted a broad ban on retail sale of most polystyrene food service products, effective July 1.
Minus local opposition, the Malibu City Council voted 4-1 on Feb. 28 to approve the ordinance and publish it locally in a legal notice March 10.
``Malibu wanted to make a statement about saving the environment'' and reducing litter, said Mike Levy, executive director of the Polystyrene Packaging Council in Arlington, Va., a business unit of the American Plastics Council.
``It is not a special-events ban. It affects restaurants.''
Although information about the proposal was disseminated in advance, ``it is difficult to get affected PS business users out to a meeting,'' Levy said. ``Unfortunately on Feb. 28, they did not show.''
The ban covers PS coffee can lids; PS foam in cups, egg cartons and in-store-packaged meat trays; and clear deli containers.
``I don't think they understand how broad the ban is,'' said David Jolly, San Diego-based regional director for government affairs and the environment with Dart Container Corp. Beyond special events or city purchases, the action is the ``first time a complete PS ban was put in.''
The ban exempts meat on PS foam trays packaged elsewhere, ice cooling chests and products such as dehydrated soups. But not so for Kroger Co.'s Ralph's supermarket in Malibu, which packages some meat products on site. ``They will need to use something else,'' Jolly said.
Local businesses unable to find a substitute packaging material can seek an exemption from the ban. That might keep flexible PS coffee lids in the market. A typical non-PS plastic soft drink lid, often of PET, polyethylene or PVC, fails in the presence of significant heat.
The ordinance was proposed in February and prompted a call for research on the subject. ``They collected a lot of information on the pros and cons of using the material'' including details about a narrower, 1989 Portland, Ore., ban on PS foam products, said Levy.
The PS packaging council does not plan to challenge the Malibu ban, but it intends to monitor how the marketplace responds.
APC's Tim Shestek, based in Sacramento, Calif., and the California Restaurant Association's Andy Casana in the group's southern California office in Long Beach also stated their objections in comments to the city council.
``Industry and Dart made an effort to get local industry [to the council meeting],'' Jolly said. The local businesses ``did not see how important it is. It is unfortunate for Malibu because people are going to have to live with it.''
The ban was enacted in the midst of several industry programs in California to reduce plastic-related litter and marine debris, Levy said.
``We are trying to come up with solutions for litter'' in efforts with several California state agencies, Orange County task forces, the Ocean Futures Society, Cal Coast, the Coalition for Environmental Protection, Restoration and Development and, for resin pellet loss, Operation Clean Sweep.
In addition to the PS packaging council and APC, members of the industry coalition in California include the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, the Foodservice and Packaging Institute, APC-parent American Chemistry Council and the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.