Minneapolis Eyes Styrofoam Ban for Food Containers

Created: 04/17/2014 6:20 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- You deal with it many times each day in its various forms, and probably don’t even think about it.

But one of those forms is drawing some heated debate in Minneapolis.

"I've never talked to a market that was interested in taking Styrofoam in any of its forms," said Mower County recycling director Jeff Weaver.

But it's the doggie box you bring home from the restaurant that's drawing attention in Minneapolis, where a city council member wants to ban them to better protect public health and the environment.

"I would say that in a lot of instances there are good alternatives to using Styrofoam," Jeff Weaver told us.

Restaurants like the Styrofoam containers because they're light weight, sturdy and cheap.

"If they're looking to ban Styrofoam, then we should be compensated for the difference in costs of the paper," said Spencer Ung at the U Garden Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association says switching to paper containers would cost more, but not by much.

"We're not likely to oppose this," said the group’s Dan McElroy.

“I would not say that it's any worse in a landfill than any other kind of plastic that is not recyclable," Mower County recycling’s Jeff Weaver told us.

At the recycling center in Austin there's a long list of items they will accept. But Styrofoam isn't one of them.

"If I can't sell it I can't take it and if I take it and I can't sell it i throw it in the landfill just like the household would," Jeff Weaver explained.

And because it’s lightweight and there’s a lot of it

"It's using space in landfills and space is expensive, and space is important to the landfill," Weaver said.

About a hundred communities around the country have passed bans like the one proposed in Minneapolis. If passed, it would become Minnesota’s first.