Burbank officials have taken the first steps toward making the city free of polystyrene and other single-use plastic-based materials.
The City Council unanimously voted last week to direct city staff to hire a consultant that can help develop a ban on expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, over the next year.
Burbank will be setting aside $250,000 to hire the consultant and conduct workshops for businesses and the public to determine the best way to implement a ban on cups, plates, clamshell containers, packing peanuts, utensils, lids, stirrers and coolers made from polystyrene, as well as single-use foodware and cups.
Instead of using plastic-based products, restaurants and other businesses that sell food and beverages are encouraged to use reusable or compostable foodware.
Council members also directed staff to ban the use of these products from city facilities and functions within the next three months.
The City Council also directed staff members to have the consultant study the feasibility of having restaurants and other businesses charge a 25-cent fee for single-use cups, regardless of the material used.
John Molinar, assistant public works director of street and sanitation, said it can take about a year to hire a consultant, conduct workshops and develop an ordinance banning polystyrene.
Kreigh Hampel, recycling coordinator for the city, added that the consultant will meet with business owners or representatives to identify how they can transition from using single-use products to more sustainable alternatives.
“We would help develop protocols for each [business],” Hampel said. “We’d like to see a range of options that restaurants could adopt.”
Councilman Tim Murphy said he wanted to take a more aggressive approach to the proposed ban, which would have required restaurants to use reusable plates and utensils for dine-in services, as well as require that disposable foodware be compostable.
“We’ve got to go all in,” Murphy said. “It’s for our kids and it’s for our planet. Let’s just do it.”