Foam Bans will Hurt Small Business

In the heart of California’s farm country, BJ’s Kountry Kitchen is famous for its breakfast, specifically its crowd-pleasing cheesy omelet.  BJ’s Kountry Kitchen uses thousands of the 9-inch foam clamshells a year, mostly for customers who come in for the restaurant’s popular breakfast omelets. Banning foam would cost Gary Honeycutt, the owner of BJ’s Kountry Kitchen, thousands of dollars in an industry where profit margins are already small.

Honeycutt estimates he will spend twice as much switching to compostable or alternative containers, and maybe even more. In order to hold hot food items, Honeycutt predicts needing two containers to help keep the food hot and to protect consumer’s hands from burning – this would ultimately double the amount of material used and more than double the total cost. 1

Foam is a superior product over paper products that make it attractive to many small businesses, large corporations, and government organizations. In the food service industry, foam cups and foam take-out containers, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam ®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, are preferred because of their insulation properties and affordability.

According to a spokesman from the coalition of businesses and workers opposing the legislative proposal to ban polystyrene foam products, single service food containers are essential to institutions, cafeterias, businesses and family restaurants throughout California.  Banning foam will cost small businesses thousands of dollars and eliminate more than 8,000 jobs.

The California Chamber of Commerce labeled SB 568 one of California’s “job-killer bills.” The bill would prohibit restaurants, grocery stores and other vendors from dispensing food in expanded polystyrene containers. Not only will SB 568 be a “job-killer,” but the bill fails to address the root cause of litter, said [i]Michael Westerfield, Corporate Director of Recycling for Dart Container Corporation.

Dart is one of two polystyrene foodservice product manufacturers in California. As a result of the different manufacturing processes for foam and paper foodservice products, these two California plants are incapable of producing anything other than polystyrene foam.

“If you get rid of manufacturers like Dart, how do you know all the alternative materials will come from California? The reality is, they won’t,” Westerfield said.


1 California considers Styrofoam containers ban, Associated Press; August, 28 2011:


Foam Bans