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A bill winding its way through state government seeks to ban the use of expanded polystyrene (commonly yet incorrectly referred to as Styrofoam) in food containers. With the exception of raw meat packaging, the ban would apply to packaging materials for any food that has been “served, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared for consumption.”

A December 2004 report to the state legislature prepared by the state’s Integrated Waste Management Board pegged the total amount of expanded polystyrene for consumer use at 166,135 tons annually. This includes packaging for food service, drinking cups, and packaging materials for consumer goods. While a few companies operate recycling facilities for bulk users, no consumer-level polystyrene recycling program exists in the state.

SB 568 was passed by the Senate in June on a 21-15 vote. A revised version of the bill was sent to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations last week. If passed and signed into law, the bill would take effect January 1, 2016, for all food suppliers except school districts, who would have extra time to phase out the foam or develop a recycling program.

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