Mpls. City Council Approves Ordinance to Ban Styrofoam Containers

Updated: 05/24/2014 8:52 AM
Created: 05/23/2014 8:30 PM
By: Cassie Hart

Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously Friday to do away with Styrofoam containers.

That means restaurants in Minneapolis would be required to get rid of takeout containers made of expanded polystyrene or EPS foam.

However the ban isn't necessarily anything brand new. Council Member Andrew Johnson likes to think they re-banned Styrofoam in the city. He said there was already an ordinance in the books for 24 years banning Styrofoam, but it wasn't consistently enforced and it eventually was not enforced at all.

Johnson says the proposal passed Friday does three things: legalizes compostable containers, lowers the fee from a misdemeanor to an administrative fee and it it simplifies language in the ordinance.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association says many restaurants have already made the switch because paper containers aren't much more expensive than foam ones.

One industry group, the Foodservice Packaging Institute, said Minneapolis should have been at the forefront of a growing movement to recycle food packaging foam, instead of banning it.

Johnson said recycling polystyrene would be too expensive for the city. He adds that the material has to be cleaned before it can be recycled, making recycling even less feasible.

If a business cannot abide by the ordinance because of the cost, the city would then deal with them on a case-by-case basis. Johnson says the goal isn't to punish businesses, but to have them reach compliance.

The new ordinance goes into effect April 22, 2015, which is Earth Day.

Photo: KSTP/File

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