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What You Should Know About Plastic and Styrofoam Bans

As pollution and climate change become a greater and greater concern, states and cities alike have begun discussing and in some cases implementing bans on plastic and Styrofoam products, especially in the food service and food container industries. While it can seem like a daunting prospect to give up the familiar takeout containers and plastic straws we’ve all grown so used to, restaurant supply stores often carry great alternatives that do the job just as well--if not better than--the standbys. By knowing the laws in your area you can not only avoid fines, but also take a more ecologically-friendly approach to providing takeout service to customers. First of all, it’s important to know the states that have styrofoam or plastic bans on some level or in some areas. As of March 2018, the following states have at least one town or city (and usually several) that have implemented bans: California Florida Maine Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota New Jersey New York Oregon Texas Washington Washington, D.C. In addition to the Styrofoam bans present in these states, two--California and Florida--have also enacted bans in some areas on plastic straws, and other states have enacted regulations or legislation to limit plastic in general. If you’re not sure whether your local government has banned Styrofoam or plastics, it’s worth getting in contact with your town, city, or municipal representatives to find out. With that out of the way, we can discuss the alternatives. Even if there is no ban on styrofoam or plastics in your area, it’s worth considering moving to a more sustainable, less-polluting option for your takeout containers: it can also be a selling point to your customers, who may be impressed at you taking a stand on environmental causes. For styrofoam or expanded poly containers, there are a few very good options for replacement: PET Plastic Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is flexible, lightweight and recyclable. PLA Plastic Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic is a biodegradable plastic. Paper/Double Poly Coated Paper Double poly-coated paper products are durable and moisture resistant. Sugarcane/Bagasse Sugarcane/bagasse is a biodegradable, compostable material designed with grease-resistant properties. Post-Consumer Paperboard This paperboard’s post-consumer makeup combines environmentally friendly properties with the durability of paperboard construction. These replacement materials provide an excellent alternative to styrofoam because, unlike the materials that styrofoam originally replaced, they combine solid thermal properties with moisture-proofed surfaces. The fact that they’re readily recyclable or biodegradable makes them a clear improvement on styrofoam or expanded poly; even though styrofoam containers technically can be recycled, facilities that accept them are few and far between, and generally require the styrofoam to be cleaned and dried before recycling--something that makes it incredibly impractical to recycle them, which is why they generally end up in landfills. On the issue of plastic straws, recent studies of marine ecology have suggested that one of the biggest culprits for ocean plastics pollution is the preponderance of plastic straws from all areas of the world. With that in mind, more and more coastal areas are discussing bans on plastic straws, with a few localities in Florida and California having already enacted them. The argument that drinking straws are a fairly modern invention--and that people consumed drinks just fine for many centuries beforehand--is facile, especially given the convenience that straws allow. Nobody wants to go back to the days before straws, and while metal straws do exist, they are not exactly practical for the purposes of takeout. However, there are a few options that exist to replace plastic straws that are disposable and inexpensive: PLA straws actually are plastic, but they’re a corn-based material that biodegrades, unlike traditional plastics. Another option is paper straws, which come in a variety of festive colors and designs, and are--of course--very readily biodegradable. Switching to one of these options is not difficult at all, and even if your local government hasn’t banned plastic straws yet, it’s something to consider to minimize your restaurant’s carbon footprint. As consumers and government representatives alike become more and more concerned with pollution and climate change, it’s more and more certain that they will push for alternatives to plastic and styrofoam containers and implements for takeout and other uses. Fortunately, restaurant supply stores carry a wide array of replacement materials and products that will help your business to make the switch and do your part to work towards preserving the environment for generations to come.

2018-05-21 00:00:00
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