The Hawaii County Council agreed to delay their proposed foam ban yet again. Bill 13, which would prohibit vendors and businesses from dispensing food in disposable polystyrene foam containers, has been met with much opposition, as County officials work out the details.
Polystyrene foam—not to be confused with Styrofoam, a registered product of the Dow Chemical Company—is often used for foodservice products like takeout containers, plates, coffee cups and lids, egg cartons, and meat trays. Foam foodservice products are ideally suited for the heavy soups, sauces, and rice-based dishes that Hawaii is known for. Furthermore, the structural integrity of foam is far superior to alternatives, offering consumers protection from leaks and spillage.
Opponents of Bill 13 also note that polystyrene is approved by the FDA, it typically costs less than alternatives, and there are ways to recycle the foam.
When polystyrene foam is properly recycled, it can be used to make new products like rulers, picture frames, garden nursery trays, and more.
Environmental Management Director, Bill Kucharski, said he cannot support the bill without “adequate financial and personnel support.” He added that this proposed bill singles out polystyrene, a recyclable product.
“Allowing a non-recyclable that is just not polystyrene will simply change the composition of the waste in the environment, not help clean our environment,” said Kucharski.
This bill will also have drastic consequences for the restaurant and packaging industries. In a written testimony, Richard Hoeflinger of Paradise Park acknowledged, “All costs of doing business are ultimately passed down to the consumer. What troubles me most is this proposed action is based purely on emotion and ideology and devoid of any factual basis.”
The Council’s priority should be educating citizens about polystyrene recycling availability and opportunities, not banning a product that Hawaiians depend on.