Pacific Grove is poised to become the fourth community in northern California to enact a ban on expanded polystyrene single-use take-out packaging this year. But despite initiatives elsewhere, the movement still appears to be confined largely to the West Coast.
``It still seems to be the California effort, with some movement to the Pacific Northwest,'' said Mike Levy, director of the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group of the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and City Council President Richard Conlin on April 2 proposed a ban on PS take-out packaging, and PS meat trays and egg cartons used in grocery stores, beginning Jan. 1.
That proposal also would ban single-use food containers that cannot be composted or recycled, starting July 1, 2010. Council members are expected to consider the plan in June.
Pacific Grove, a town of fewer than 16,000 nestled between Carmel and Monterey, is scheduled to take a second vote May 7 on its ban, which passed unanimously at an April 16 council meeting.
The law would take effect Nov. 1 and apply to trays, cups, bowls, plates and hinged or lidded containers.
Ice chests, coolers and containers meant for reuse are exempt, as are utensils. There is a hardship exemption if the cost of alternative products is more than 15 percent higher.
Earlier this month, the board of supervisors in Santa Cruz County, Calif., adopted a PS ban first approved in January that will apply to about 500 businesses in unincorporated areas in the county.
A ban in Laguna Beach, Calif., that goes into effect July 1 will be the first PS ban in Southern California. The Laguna Beach ban also includes utensils and bans nonrecyclable plastic without providing a definition of what constitutes nonrecyclable.
The city of Santa Cruz approved a PS ban that goes into effect in August, and Alameda's PS ban goes into effect July 1.
Unlike most laws that apply mostly to single-use containers, the Alameda law also applies to lids, straws, forks, spoons and knives.
It also requires that food-service operators use biodegradable or compostable packaging unless they can show that it is unavailable.