Maui County Councilmembers May Advance Measure to Restrict Foam

At their last meeting, councilmembers from Maui County decided to advance a measure that restricts the use and sale of polystyrene foam containers. The measure would also ban the products at county events and facilities.

This restriction could have disastrous consequences for restaurant owners, forcing them to either raise prices for customers or absorb the costs of paying for higher-priced alternatives. Polystyrene foam is most often used for foodservice products like coffee cups and lids, egg cartons, takeout containers, and meat trays. Many restaurants prefer using foam containers because they are more durable and more cost-effective than alternatives.

Polystyrene—often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company—can be easily identified by the #6 chasing arrows symbol that is stamped on the products.

A more rational measure than an outright foam ban would be a concerted focus on polystyrene recycling efforts. Foam products are already recycled in areas across the country and recycled polystyrene is used to make items like rulers, surfboards, garden nursery trays, crown molding, and picture frames.

A second reading is necessary before councilmembers can make a final decision on the proposal.

Foam Bans