Portland City Council Delays Idea of Foam Ban

The City Council of Portland, Maine, has decided to delay any further action on a potential ban of polystyrene foam foodservice items after several community leaders voiced concerns. First introduced last year, the foam ban would prohibit restaurants and other businesses within the city from using polystyrene foam materials, and cause them to switch to costly alternatives. Banning polystyrene foam, which is often referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, would mean a ban on the takeout containers and foam cups many local businesses use daily.

Opposition to the ban comes from a variety of local business owners within the community, including Barbara Anania, who owns Anania’s Variety Store. The 50-year-old business serves coffee daily, and offers both polystyrene foam and paper cups to its patrons. Coffee drinkers regularly request foam cups because of their convenience at a rate of 8 to 1 over paper cups.  Lionel Levesque, owner of a Cumberland Farms store within Portland, also opposes the foam ban and comments: “I think [the ban] should be a last resort. Why not focus on increasing recycling and decreasing litter?”

Several community members are also concerned with the lack of evidence the council has for implementing such a ban. While an appointed working group is in place to review the potential ban, many feel their findings aren’t enough to justify putting the issue to a council vote. Business owners within the group believe supporters failed to “properly account for the financial impact to businesses and consumers that would result from this proposed product ban.” Councilor Cheryl Leeman asks why the council would consider something with such a “tremendous economic impact on the businesses in our community” when evidence of waste stream pollution caused by foam products hasn’t been provided.

The issue in Portland could be avoided altogether with the implementation of a recycling program specific to foam products. Dart Container Corporation, a manufacturer of foam items, has developed programs to responsibly dispose of foam materials.  Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) Program, for example, provides participants with a device to compress collected foam cups to a fraction of their original size. The compressed material is then sent to a manufacturer who recycles the mass into new consumer products, eliminating the foam waste altogether.

Source: Portland Daily Sun

Foam Bans