Richmond considers expanding restrictions on polystyrene foam products

County considers ban on polystyrene food and beverage containers

Citing negative impacts to the environment, Richmond is considering expanding its restrictions on the use of polystyrene foam products.

Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin are proposing the consideration of new regulations, saying polystyrene, one of the most highly used plastics often employed for food packaging, creates a significant amount of litter in the city.

Some of the non-biodegradable foam breaks down into smaller pieces and ends up in estuaries to be ingested by marine life, endangering them, according to city documents.

To prevent that, the city in 2013 updated its food ware ordinance that bans retail sales of polystyrene foam products. The ordinance also requires restaurants and other food providers to use compostable or recyclable food ware.

But seeing that other cities, including San Francisco, have more extensive regulations on polystyrene foam, Richmond is considering a number of ways to expand its own.

One proposed regulation would prohibit for-profit sales of products that are packaged with material made from polystyrene, such as egg cartons. Another would ban the use of polystyrene products to hold or protect items when packaging is done in a for-profit manner within city limits.

Another idea would prohibit anyone from carrying polystyrene products onto parks or beaches managed by the city.

The final proposal mentioned in city documents would require anyone doing business with the city to use reusable food ware. If that’s not practical, they could use compostable or recyclable versions.

The proposed regulations are set to be discussed at the Richmond City Council meeting Tuesday night.


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