Minneapolis restaurant owners react to proposed Styrofoam ban

Categories: News
Styrofoam.jpg
Photo by complexify via Flickr
Last Monday, the Health, Environment & Community Engagement Committee approved an ordinance that would effectively ban the use of Styrofoam cups and to-go containers at Minneapolis restaurants. The ordinance will go before the full City Council this week and, if approved, plastic foam containers will be prohibited on Earth Day, April 22, of next year.

Styrofoam restriction in Minneapolis is nothing new. The changes are actually being added to a 25-year-old ordinance regarding sustainable containers that was intended to ban the use of polystyrene foam, but was rarely enforced.

See also:
Andrew Johnson's ordinance would ban Styrofoam containers in Mpls

The changes proposed by City Council member Andrew Johnson would switch the use of Styrofoam in restaurants from a misdemeanor to an administrative citation and would ensure that only recyclable, compostable, or reusable containers are used in Minneapolis restaurants.

Opponents to the ban have expressed concern that eliminating plastic foam will lead to an increase in prices. Johnson's hope is that once companies start buying environmentally sustainable containers, costs will decrease.

Minneapolis does not recycle Styrofoam, and though recycling plastic foam is possible, it is also costly. Polystyrene foam is an airy substance with very little plastic in it, which means the cost of shipping it to a recycling facility generally outweighs the benefit of recycling.

Mesa Pizza in Dinkytown uses Styrofoam containers for individual slices, but said the ban won't affect them much financially.

"I don't feel like it would really hinder our business," manager Laura Saxton says. "People will ask for boxes and we kind of discourage it because they're going to eat here and then throw their boxes in the garbage. It's so wasteful."

Longfellow's Gandhi Mahal made the transition to environmentally friendly packaging before talk of the ban arose, thanks to encouragement from community members.

"[We'd] already gone through the process ourselves prior to any ordinance or enforcement of that because we want to be sustainable," Gandhi Mahal general manager Riz Prakasim says. "Our neighborhood is conscious, they're educated, and they have challenged us and we have responded in kind because we are part of this community and we want to positively engage our community."

Gandhi Mahal first transitioned to recyclables, then to compostables, and now composts restaurant waste and converts cooking oil to biodiesel as well.

"Whatever we do, we ask the question, 'Is what we're doing life-giving?'" Prakasim says.

The ordinance banning Styrofoam goes before the full City Council this Friday, May 23.



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209 comments
ashminismith
ashminismith

As small coffee shop owners we have used Classic Promotions & Premiums for our menu printing for over five years. They have never failed to exceed our expectations. You can check them out at http://www.classicpromotionsdirect.com 


Scott Merchant
Scott Merchant

Maybe, but paper containers can't be currently recycled. Just put my food in something. To be a real green citizen just bring your own Tupperware.

alexjarvis88
alexjarvis88

Yay!  Let's get rid of plastic bags while we are at it.  Given that other places already have...I am always disgusted when Lunds or Target puts my stuff in a plastic bag.  those places are supposed to be ahead of the curve just in the very identities they project...and they are both based here, so maybe they need a little help.

Andy McClure
Andy McClure

Ban the styrofoam, and tax the plastic bags. Before anyone starts complaining about the costs, we're talk a few pennies on a carry-out order. Even that would probably be offset in short order.

John Manitou
John Manitou

A lot of the comments here... I support their view, but I don't think they realize just how many products (not just food storage) use this kind of material. Some exceptions should be made, medical supplies, for example -- while a temporary ban is put into place until we properly fund and build the infrastructure that can recycle it properly. And then the ban can be lifted. Hopefully, by that time, the use of the material won't be as wide spread or problematic: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/polystyrene-recycling.htm

Sharon T Dwyer
Sharon T Dwyer

Recycling options have not been explored yet, lets do it!! And if necessary rather than put manufacturers out of business with a ban, encourage them with tax incentives to alter the composition to a more recycle friendly material.

Minnesota Against Monsanto
Minnesota Against Monsanto

Join us on Saturday for the Twin Cities MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO at the State Capitol! Rally with speakers, live music and information tables, in a family-friendly environment!

Mike Jones
Mike Jones

Only shitty restaurants use them anymore.

Michelle Stockness
Michelle Stockness

Yes! The MN Restaurant Association does not oppose this ordinance. Styrofoam is bad for the environment and chemicals from the containers can seep into food.

Sheldon Casper
Sheldon Casper

Absolutely ban them so more trees can die and more water get polluted and the pulp barons can get richer!

Deb Santos
Deb Santos

Be prepared for charges for take out. Recyclable containers are very expensive. Add major increase in minimum wage, highest meat prices in history.....prices will be increasing, many small businesses will not survive!

Brent McMullen
Brent McMullen

Picked up a Styrofoam takeout container out of the Mississippi river today. There should also be a ban on one time use plastics as well.

Noah Fentz
Noah Fentz

Get rid of it. Should b outlawed!

Tim Becker
Tim Becker

I think there should be a ban on banning shit!

Cameron Bromen
Cameron Bromen

As a Styrofoam lobbyist in Washington, I'm even for banning them.

Kirsten Tonny Lid
Kirsten Tonny Lid

And make green solutions less expensive to said restaurant owners, our purveyors charge way too much because they know it's trendy and cool to be green, the manufacturers should take more responsibility. at one time, Mpls did recycle styro, they stopped when it got too expensive, can't some genius out there come up with a process to wash, chip and remake insulation boards or something?

Frank Ploof
Frank Ploof

quit making something that cant be disposed of.

Eric Severson
Eric Severson

Don't you just love companies that prefer to destroy our planet just to save a bit of our made up concept of money? Big ups to Gandhi Mahal, they are delicious!

Ashley Ann
Ashley Ann

There are biodegradable options. We are smart and adaptable. Figure it out.

Trisha Snowden
Trisha Snowden

Devan they just passed a Chicago ordinance that bans plastic bags in grocery and liquor stores !

eddogg67
eddogg67

So what are we supposed to do for take out food?? Are we just going to be limited to what we can carry in our bare hands?

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