Andrew Johnson's ordinance would ban Styrofoam containers in Mpls

Andrew Johnson
Did you know Minneapolis already has an ordinance on the books banning Styrofoam containers? Before he successfully ran for City Council last year, neither did Andrew Johnson.

"When I was campaigning I would come back late at night and go through city ordinances because when I had worked with the Longfellow Community Council, a lot of small businesses felt there was a lot of red tape," Johnson tells us. "And so, I was going through these ordinances and I found this one on environmentally sustainable containers, and I thought, does this mean Styrofoam is banned?"

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Turns out the answer is yes. City officials simply haven't been enforcing an ordinance that's been around since 1990, Johnson says.

But next week, the first-term City Council member from Minneapolis's most southeastern ward will introduce a new anti-Styrofoam ordinance. This time, he expects it to stick.
Johnson has declared war on containers of this sort.

Johnson's ordinance would ban businesses from giving customers to-go Styrofoam containers, and would require all food or beverage containers to either be recyclable or compostable.

Most everyone knows about the environmental problems posed by Styrofoam. But Johnson says public health concerns also motivate his proposal.

"When there's food or hot beverages in a Styrofoam container, styrene leeches out of it," Johnson says. "It's considered to be a presumable human carcinogen and neurotoxin."

Johnson also addressed concerns some have expressed about his ordinance, including costs to businesses and overregulation.

Regarding costs, Johnson cited the impact of a similar ordinance in San Francisco, which is one of more than 100 American cities that have already banned Styrofoam containers.

"When San Francisco implemented this, more than 3,000 businesses were affected but not a single one filed a financial hardship report," Johnson says. "Yes, it does cost a little more, but as more businesses switch over it drives down the price as well."

Johnson got theoretical when asked to address worries his proposal takes us a step further down the road toward a nanny state.

(For more, click to page two.)

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