I have found that the 28 counties and 90 cities that banned polystyrene food containers are being sued to stop the laws from going into effect. Since then I have been contacted by Dave Grenell who helped write the Green Restaurant Ordinance in the city of Oakland, CA. which does not ban the use of polystyrene food containers instead it states: "This ordinance will institute two distinct practices by all food vendors and City Facilities in Oakland. The first is that the use of polystyrene foam disposable food service ware will be prohibited. The second is that all disposable food service ware will be required to be biodegradable or compostable, as long as it is affordable. "

This law addresses several different issues.

The most important issue is the issue of the health affects that arises from the polystyrene food containers that cost our citizens their quality of life as well as enormous health care cost. The side effects mirror that of tobacco products because these chemicals are byproducts of tobacco products.

  • Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states those people who are especially at risk are:
    "Those with central nervous system disorders, chronic respiratory disease, skin disease, kidney disease and liver disease are at an increased risk from styrene exposure. [Mackison, F. W., R. S. Stricoff, and L. J. Partridge, Jr. (eds.). NIOSH/OSHA - Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. DHHS (NIOSH) PublicationNo. 81-123 (3 VOLS). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Jan. 1981."

  • We pass laws to keep our children from smoking YET, we feed them these chemicals in another form knowing the health affects. "Exposure of styrene to the general population is possible by ingestion of food which has been packaged in polystyrene, by ingestion of contaminated finished drinking water, by inhalation of air contaminated by industrial sources, auto exhaust, or incineration emission, and by inhalation of smoke from cigarettes. [IARC. Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man. Geneva: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer,1972-PRESENT. (Multivolume work).,p. V60 248-9 (1994)]"

  • Should pregnant women eat from Polystyrene containers especially since the side effects mirror that of tobacco products? Consider these facts from the Philip Morris web site: and the answer will clearly be no!

Besides making the public healthier the other Pro's to using compostable and recyclable food containers over polystyrene containers

  • The new compostable food containers biodegrade in 90 days vs: thousands of years it takes for polystyrene containers to biodegrade. Therefore making landfills reusable in less time and making it less costly; we can put more in the landfills because it biodegrades faster making room faster.

  • Because these new compostable food containers are made from starches they do not leach toxins into our foods from these food containers like the toxins in the polystyrene containers. More importantly there are less toxins to leach into our water supply from the landfills were there are dumped. Landfills can then be made into playgrounds when they are fill without the worry of the toxins causing illness to our children.

According to a Backyard Nature article ( -Disposable food serviceware that is compostable and recyclable) there are several other cities on the west coast (Berkeley, Huntington Beach, Malibu Newport Beach in California and Portland Oregon) and one on the east coast (Baltimore, Maryland) considering similar ordinances to that of Oakland & Santa Monica. San Francisco has already passed their ordinance

Cities like Albany, NY should consider an ordinance because they recently reassigned 30 acres of the Pine Bush Preserve for a landfill.

We need a federal law to this effect to reduce our healthcare and landfill cost!




Below is information on other community activities working towards the banning of polystyrene. Many reaching statewide.

Alaska Native Villages and Coalitions
Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council.
Seventeen Chiefs from the Gwich'in Nation have signed a resolution to ban styrofoam and plastic bags from their communities, to create collection sites for batteries at local landfills and to have fines for littering. Contact: Andrea Bongen, (907) 563-9334

Connecticut law allows towns to prohibit the sale or use of polystyrene packaging products unless vendor, commercial, or retail users can prove that they are actively recycling the material (the law exempts towns that had bans before October 1, 1989 and March 15, 1990 from the recycling exception). It also prohibits (1) the sale of polystyrene foam made with a controlled substance (i. e. , one that depletes the ozone layer) and (2) the state from buying anything packaged in or made of polystyrene foam that was made using a controlled substance (CGS 22a-229 and 22a-194a and g).
By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

Maine law prohibits food services that serve individual food portions or beverages at state and political subdivision facilities (including most schools but excluding certain elderly food services) or functions from using polystyrene foam containers unless the food service recycles the containers after use (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, 1652). Maine prohibits the sale of polystyrene foam sheets or boards that were made with any fully halogenated chlorofluorocarbon that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency found to be ozone-depleting (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, 1603). It also prohibits the use of polystyrene foam containers for selling baitfish (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 12, 7606).
By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

Assembly Bill 4502 is similar to Maine's law in that it would prohibit the use of polystyrene foam packaging by state concessionaires in state buildings and on state grounds (prior legislative history shows similar bills have been proposed and died since 1993). Assembly Bills 4271 and 4878 prohibit the use of polystyrene foam as packaging material (prior legislative history shows similar bills have been proposed and died since 1995 and 1993 respectively).
By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

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Questions or comments? Email Charles Lake