Vancouver Becomes Latest City To Ban Styrofoam Containers

In yet another win for the environment, Vancouver just became the latest city to ban the use of Styrofoam containers.

Styrofoam is one of the worst offenders when it comes to needless trash that pollutes the planet.

Millions of these containers are used every day, particularly in foodservice, and is often thrown away. It then ends up in a landfill and then the ocean, which only adds to the plastics crisis that is choking our oceans to death.

And that’s why Vancouver, Canada has passed a new law banning Styrofoam containers with only a few exceptions.

“Effective Jan 1, 2020, businesses are required to comply with a city-wide ban, which restricts license holders from serving prepared food and beverages in foam cups and foam take-out containers,” the Vancouver city website said. “The foam ban is one of the actions we’re taking to reduce single-use item waste in support of our zero waste 2040 goal.”

The site went on to note what kind of Styrofoam containers the ban applies to.

“The foam ban applies to all white and colored polystyrene foam cups and foam take-out containers that are used for serving prepared food or beverages, including but not limited to plates, cups, bowls, trays, cartons, and hinged (‘clamshell’) or lidded containers,” the site explained.

But there are some exemptions, both temporary and permanent.

The foam ban does not apply to food service to patients in hospitals or food service to residents of community care facilities.

A one year exemption has been provided. These organizations can use foam up until Jan 1, 2021.

The temporary exemption allows charitable food providers more time to find cost-effective alternatives that meet their needs as a community service provider.

That makes sense. Hospital patients are vulnerable to infection and other illnesses, so using Styrofoam containers would be the best option to protect public health.

The site concluded by advising businesses how to start complying with the law, and it starts with informing customers of their options.

“For example, you can ask your dine-in customers if they’d like to have their leftovers packaged in as few single-use containers as possible, rather than packaging leftover dishes separately,” the site said. “You can also encourage your dine-in customers to bring their own reusable containers for taking home any leftovers.”

A reusable container consumers can bring to restaurants with them includes normal Tupperware, which you can hand to the food service worker to load up with your meal. Then you go home and eat it, wash the container and bring it back the next time you order out.

Vancouver is just the latest to pass such a ban. The entire state of Maine just banned Styrofoam containers earlier this year in a stunning move that will reverberate in other regions of the country as other states consider similar actions to reduce pollution.

And these kinds of bans are going to have to become more common if we want to save the planet. For too long, we have relied on the convenience of Styrofoam containers, but we now need to practice more sustainable strategies if these bans are going to work.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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