The Berkeley City Council, which last year outlawed ozone-destroying plastic foam food containers, has voted for a sweeping ordinance banning nearly all foam cups, plates and hamburger holders.
The city, known for its pioneering and sometimes controversial laws, last September banned plastic foam food packages containing chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, chemical compounds linked to the depletion of Earth’s ozone layer.
Now that the plastics industry has begun to phase out CFCs, Councilwoman Nancy Skinner led the drive to expand that ordinance and adopt a companion measure eliminating most plastic foam food packages.
The new proposal would ban, starting in September, any plastic foam containing CFCs and outlaw all other plastic foam food packages starting in 1990.
The only exception would be retail foam products such as picnic plates and cups sold in markets. Also, in the two years before the ban takes effect, restaurants and food vendors will be asked to voluntarily stop using the products and take other steps to reduce litter and garbage.
Based on N.Y. Ordinance
The ordinance is patterned after one passed earlier this year in Suffolk County on New York’s Long Island.
“Berkeley alone doing this is not that significant,” Skinner said, “but if we do it and it causes other cities to do it, and causes companies to change things, that’s significant.
“Since we first started talking about it, McDonald’s has announced it wouldn’t use products with CFCs, so definitely it’s had the effect many of us wanted it to have,” Skinner said.
The Suffolk County ban takes effect July 1, 1989, and applies to food containers and utensils made of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, as well as plastic shopping bags made of polyethylene.
Suffolk County faces a serious ground-water contamination problem, and is running out of places to put its garbage, a crisis that received national attention last year when a huge barge full of county garbage was turned away at numerous ports and landfills.