Polystyrene ban update
- Ordinance 4457, A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A NEW CHAPTER 20 26 MAUI COUNTY CODE RESTRICTING THE USE AND SALE OF POLYSTYRENE FOAM FOOD SERVICE CONTAINERS, effective December 31, 2018
- May 9, 2017: Summary of 3 research memos presentation
- May 8, 2017: Handouts from Council Chair Mike White
- May 8, 2017: 9 a.m. Special Council meeting AGENDA
- Bill 127 (2016): A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A NEW CHAPTER 20.26, MAUI COUNTY CODE, RESTRICTING THE USE AND SALE OF POLYSTYRENE FOOD SERVICE CONTAINERS
- May 9, 2017: 9 a.m. Special Council meeting
- Cheryl King, Sharkastics
- Megan Lamson, Hawaii Wildlife Fund
- PRESENTATION: Maui Polystyrene Food Service Bill 127
- Dec. 4, 2012: Tracking the sources and sinks of local marine debris in Hawai‘i, Marine Environmental Research
- Aug. 29, 2016: State Dept. of Transportation Highways Division Trash Reduction Plan
- August 2013 Natural Resources Defense Council: Waste in our water: The Annual Cost to California Communities of Reducing Little That Pollutes Our Waterways
- Lynn Dyer, Foodservice Packaging Institute
- Kerry Flickner, Waste Solutions for Foodservice Sustainability Solutions
- Dr. George Cruzan, ToxWorks
- Dr. Hillary Young, University of California Santa Barbara
- Dr. Douglas McCauley, University of California Santa Barbara
- Dr. Ruth Lunn, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Testimony may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org referencing Bill No. 127 (2016).
- Dec. 16, 2016: Amendment Summary Form introduced by Councilmember Don Guzman
- Amend bill to delete from proposed bill regulating polystyrene food service containers an exemption to prohibitions for foods prepared and packaged entirely outside of the County but sold within the County; and to modify the kinds of hardship necessary for an exemption for packaging in situations unique to the food provider, where compliance with the new chapter would cause significant financial hardship.
- Dec. 6, 2016: Revised bill
- Nov. 28, 2016: The Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee recommended passage of the bill for first reading.
Video of meeting:
REVIEW: IEM-5 Documents
- Nov. 17 IEM Committee meeting: http://mauicounty.us/meeting/141117iem/
- Review proposed bill: http://www.co.maui.hi.us/Archive.aspx?ADID=19275
- July 28 IEM Committee meeting minutes: http://www.co.maui.hi.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/19396
- July 28 IEM Committee meeting video: https://archive.org/details/140728Infrastructure13762
- July 24 Press release: Committee to consider ban on polystyrene food containers
Download a PDF of the task force report
November 17, 2014
MEMO TO: Elle Cochran, Chair
and Members of the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee
FROM: Michael P. Victorino
SUBJECT: POLYSTYRENE DISPOSABLE FOOD SERVICE CONTAINERS (PAF 14-218)
The informal task force on polystyrene disposable food service containers reports as follows after having discussions on August 27, 2014, August 28, 2014, September 8, 2014, and September 22, 2014:
The task force’s purpose was to make findings and recommendations on the proposed bill entitled “A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A NEW CHAPTER 20.26, MAUI COUNTY CODE, PERTAINING TO POLYSTYRENE DISPOSABLE FOOD SERVICE CONTAINERS” (“the bill”), which was originally introduced during the 2009-2010 Council term. I reintroduced the bill during the current Council term via County Communication 13-29. The bill was posted to the Committee’s website on July 28, 2014, the same day the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee initially discussed the bill. During the meeting, I volunteered to convene this task force. As stated on today’s agenda, the bill’s purpose is “to regulate the use and sale of polystyrene disposable food service containers by food providers in the County of Maui.” Polystyrene is a type of plastic.
II. Scope of Work
The scope of the task force’s work included:
- Clarifying the bill’s purpose.
- Identifying the materials, containers, foods, and food providers subject to the bill.
- Identifying the bill’s potential impacts on food providers and County programs.
- Evaluating the bill’s proposed exemptions.
- Reviewing the reporting requirements of the administering agency.
The task force is composed of the following community stakeholders:
- Business advocates – Maui Chamber of Commerce, business consultant
- County officials – Department of Environmental Management, Office of the Mayor, Kaunoa Senior Services
- Environmental advocates – Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Whale Foundation, Styrophobia, individuals
- Food providers – Pukalani Superette, Zippy’s Restaurants, Times Supermarket, Wailuku Coffee Company, Whole Foods
- Manufacturers of disposable food service containers – KYD, Inc.
- Wholesalers of disposable food service containers – Maui Chemical and Paper Products, VIP Foodservice
Exhibit “1,” provides a list of the individual task force participants
The bill’s primary intent is to protect marine animals and birds from the hazards of plastic litter. All members of the task force agree the County should protect marine animals and birds, but disagree on whether the bill is an appropriate means of doing so. The bill may also provide other environmental and health benefits.
The task force finds that educational outreach and improved litter control are needed to mitigate litter hazards.
The bill seeks to fulfill the objective of plastic-litter mitigation by prohibiting: (1) food providers from dispensing prepared food in polystyrene disposable containers, (2) the County’s use of polystyrene disposable containers, and (3) the retail sale of polystyrene disposable containers, subject to listed exemptions.
B. The bill’s efficacy
The task force does not have a consensus on whether enacting the bill is a good strategy for mitigating the impacts of plastic litter.
1. Those opposed to the bill assert the following:
a. The bill fails to address the other types and sources of plastic litter that are more problematic in the environment.
b. A product ban is not intended to reduce litter and will only result in the substitution of polystyrene litter with non-polystyrene litter.
2. Those supportive of the bill assert the following:
a. Reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic products, such as polystyrene containers, is a manageable step toward combating the global problem of plastic marine debris.
b. Numerous municipalities and other government agencies have implemented similar prohibitions without realizing adverse effects. According to the City of San Jose, California, 71 cities and agencies in California alone have enacted polystyrene bans.
c. Enacting the bill would solidify the County’s commitment to addressing the problem of plastic marine debris.
The task force finds the bill will not significantly reduce waste sent to the County’s landfills for the following reasons:
- Polystyrene materials comprise less than 1 per cent of the waste stream entering the landfills.
- Landfills are designed to inhibit the decomposition of materials. Compostable or biodegradable materials – alternatives to polystyrene materials – will not decompose at a significantly faster rate than polystyrene materials when disposed into a landfill.
- Compostable or biodegradable alternatives to polystyrene containers will not be diverted from the landfills until a facility capable of receiving these alternative containers is constructed. There are no known plans to construct such a facility in Maui County.
- Both polystyrene and non-polystyrene containers will have negligible impacts to the landfills should the proposed Integrated Waste and Energy Conversion project come to fruition.
The task force does not have a consensus on the public health risks of using polystyrene disposable containers.
1. Those opposed to the bill assert the following:
a. Use of polystyrene containers is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).
b. Synthetic styrene (the material used in the manufacturing of polystyrene) and naturally occurring styrene (found in common foods and beverages such as beef, beer, and cinnamon) are chemically identical.
c. The amount of styrene that may leach into prepared food served in a polystyrene container is significantly below the safety limits set by the FDA and is similar to the amounts of styrene contained in commonly consumed foods.
2. Those supportive of the bill assert the following:
a. Styrene has been shown to leach out from food containers that are in contact with prepared foods.
b. Styrene is suspected to be a neurotoxin, and the National Academy of Sciences has identified styrene as being reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (Exhibit “2”).
C. Types of polystyrene materials
Every type of foam and non-foam polystyrene plastic is subject to the bill. No other types of plastic are identified. Expanded polystyrene foam is the most common and inexpensive form of polystyrene used for disposable containers.
Styrofoam is not used for disposable containers or subject to the bill. Styrofoam is a trademarked brand of an extruded polystyrene foam product used as a building material. Food service containers made from expanded polystyrene foam are commonly referred to as Styrofoam; this is incorrect.
D. Analysis of the bill’s prohibitions
- Food providers. The bill bans a “food provider” from giving or selling polystyrene disposable containers to customers; however, food providers can apply for an exemption from this restriction. Food providers include restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores and shops.
- County. The use of polystyrene containers is prohibited from every County facility, County program, and County-approved activity, without exception. This restriction applies to parks, community centers, recreation areas, offices, County operations, and any activity that requires a County permit. Programs supported by the County, such as Meal on Wheels, would be subject to the prohibition.
Those opposed to the bill assert the prohibitions would be detrimental to food providers, other businesses, and the County for the following reasons:
- Alternatives to polystyrene disposable containers have inferior performance and therefore may adversely impact food providers’ operations.
- Non-polystyrene alternatives cost more than polystyrene disposable containers. Exhibit “3,” provides VIP Foodservice’s pricing for various polystyrene and non-polystyrene containers.
- The County’s Kaunoa Senior Services program provides more than 100,000 meals per year, the majority of which are served in disposable polystyrene containers. Whether non-polystyrene containers can maintain food temperatures and adequately transport these meals is a significant question.
Those supportive of the bill assert the prohibitions are not burdensome and are consistent with industry trends for the following reasons:
- Job losses and business closures have not been reported in the municipalities that have adopted similar prohibitions.
- Some food providers in the County already use non-polystyrene containers without experiencing adverse performance or cost differences.
- Information shared by the wholesalers of disposable food service containers indicates non-polystyrene containers sales are increasing. Exhibit “4”, provides information from VIP Foodservice comparing recent sales of polystyrene cups against non-polystyrene cups.
The bill exempts foods prepared or packaged entirely outside of the County.
Food providers unable to import prepared food would have to either pass on or absorb the costs from using non-polystyrene containers. Those food providers would be put at a competitive disadvantage. The exemption creates a financial incentive for food providers to outsource their packaging operations and may drive business activity away from the County.
Foam coolers and ice chests are exempt under the bill because these items are designed for multiple use.
Any food provider can apply for a one-year exemption if: (1) “no reasonable alternatives” to use of polystyrene disposable containers exist; and (2) “significant economic hardship” would result. These terms need to be defined for this exemption to be implemented.
The bill says the Director of Environmental Management shall annually submit to the Council a report estimating the increase in the number of food providers using compostable or recyclable containers. When food providers come into compliance, there will be little or no useful data. So, the report would not produce helpful information.
The task force emphasizes education and public outreach to residents and visitors are critical to reducing plastic litter. The County needs to dedicate resources and facilitate partnerships with community organizations and businesses to develop educational programs that raise awareness to the impacts of litter on the marine environment. In addition, improved litter control and prevention is needed.
The task force is divided on whether the Council should pass the bill.
Task force members opposed to the bill have submitted their own recommendations, as Exhibit “5.” They recommend that no action be taken for the following reasons:
- County resources should not support administering or enforcing a product ban that may impose financial hardships on businesses. Rather, these resources should be used to support improved education on litter control.
- A law intended to eliminate the use of polystyrene disposable containers is unnecessary when industry trends show food providers are already transitioning to non-polystyrene alternatives.
- Prior to taking any action, the Council should gather more information by conducting a “triple bottom line” assessment (social, environmental, financial) and reviewing a related study to be conducted by the City and County of Honolulu.
Task force members supportive of the bill have also submitted their own recommendations, as Exhibit “6.” They recommend passage of the bill for the following reasons:
- Many coastal communities have adopted similar prohibitions. The bill is an achievable step toward combating the global problem of plastic marine debris.
- Prohibiting polystyrene disposable containers would reduce the amount of litter entering the environment by displacing toxic plastic materials with non-toxic biodegradable materials.
- A codified policy is needed to reinforce the County’s commitment to reduce plastic litter and to create the impetus for supporting improved litter control and education.
The task force recommends that any further discussion on the bill include consideration of revisions to the following provisions:
SECTION 1 of the bill –
• Proposed Maui County Code Section 20.26.010 (“Purpose”)
– Clarify that the bill’s primary intent is to address impacts to marine animals and birds attributable to plastic litter by reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic products.
• Proposed Maui County Code Section 20.26.020 (“Definitions”)
– Evaluate other types of single-use disposable items that may warrant exclusion from the definition of “disposable food service container.” The task force suggests plastic films used for sealing a food service container or packaging a prepared food should be excluded.
• Proposed Maui County Code Section 20.26.030 (“Administration”)
– Incorporate a provision for providing marine debris and litter reduction education to residents and visitors and consider designating a specific County agency or office to be responsible for this function.
– Incorporate a provision for establishing litter control programs.
• Proposed Maui County Code Section 20.26.040 (“Restrictions”)
– Subsection A prohibits dispensing polystyrene disposable containers to “customers.” Clarify who is considered a customer. It is unclear whether people attending a private event are considered “customers.”
– Consider whether County programs should be allowed to apply for an exemption.
– Evaluate the legality of restricting retail sales of polystyrene products, including potential conflicts with the Interstate Commerce Clause.
– Consider whether to limit the bill’s scope to cups and clamshell-type containers.
– Consider whether to limit the bill’s scope to expanded polystyrene foam.
• Proposed Maui County Code Section 20.26.050 (“Exemptions”)
– Eliminate the exemption for prepared foods packaged outside of the County so that food providers unable to qualify for the exemption are not disadvantaged.
– Consider whether to establish an exemption for charitable fundraisers.
– Clarify the meaning of the terms “reasonable alternative” and “significant economic hardship.”
– Clarify the process for determining when a particular type of container qualifies for an exemption.
SECTION 2 of the bill –
– The bill’s effective date should allow for a two-year grace period, similar to the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance.
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