Long Beach Considers Banning Styrofoam

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — It could be the end of an era in Long Beach for Styrofoam.

As KCAL9/CBS2’s Jo Kwon reports, the proposal to ban the product has some restaurant owners worried it could mean the end of their businesseses.

“There’s no affordable alternatives for the products that we use now,” said Neil Strawder, who owns the Bigmista’s BBQ & Sammich Shop.

Strawder says he is “all for saving the environment” but he says forcing mom and pop shops like his to stop using Styrofoam containers could force some out of business.

“They cost about 8 cents apiece in Styrofoam. A comparable product, plastic, costs 22 cents.”

Even more for products made with recycled material.

Some customers say they prefer the Styrofoam containers because the paper alternatives can leak.

Portfolio Coffeehouse owner Kersten Kansteiner agrees the so-called earth-friendly products cost more.

“There’s certainly a price for the environment and we feel strongly that a few pennies, and we are talking a few pennies, are worth it to us,” said Kansteiner.

She went Styrofoam-free 15 years ago, using plastic-like containers for take out.

City Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez proposed the ban. In a statement, she says “as an environmentally responsible coastal city, we cannot allow the second largest source of litter to continue to create blight and pollution in our great city.”

Under her proposal, places like Strawder’s with fewer than 25 employees would have 15 months to stop using Styrofoam. Larger businesses would have six months.

“The money is still the same whether it comes slowly or quickly,” said Strawder.

One local interviewed said he’s willing to chip in for so-called earth-friendly options.

“If I have to pay 10 cents more for a burger for take out, I’m happy to do that,” Long Beach resident Roger Howard said.

The City Council votes Tuesday whether to have the city attorney write up a ban.

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