San Leandro Readies Its Own Attack On Polystyrene

Hayward banned polystyrene
 foodware last week from
 its local restaurants.

By Steven Tavares

San Leandro could be the next Bay Area city to ban polystyrene foodware from its restaurants. Councilman Jim Prola asked the city manager Monday night to bring the discussion to the next rules committee and appear to have already attain a consensus on the council.

Last week, Hayward unanimously approved such a ban joining neighboring cities in Oakland, Richmond, Alameda and Fremont in ridding the landfill-clogging material from its city limits. Councilmembers Bill Stephens and Michael Gregory along with Prola have urged the city on numerous occasions to seek an additional ban on plastic bags. Making the leap to polystyrene cups and plates would appear to be easy. Like other nearby cities, the possible plastic bag ban has been deemed to be a bit more tricky to pass because of court challenges, but not so with polystyrene which are commonly used in restaurants featuring take-out.

If Hayward’s ban is any indication, the possibility of a polystyrene ban in San Leandro would appear to have few challenges. Hayward’s prohibition did not focus on the increased stress to landfills, but instead on limiting litter on its streets and environment. While polystyrene can take hundreds of years to breakdown, it can become extremely brittle making it difficult to dispose when exposed to the elements.

Despite pleas from the restaurant owners who voiced concern over the additional cost of biodegradable containers and the lack of quality to hold some of their signature dishes, the Hayward City Council was steadfast in their belief environmentally-friendly alternatives were readily available and the increased cost to the restaurant owners are bound to decrease as demand increases.

The sole question for San Leandro, whose residents are clamoring for more eclectic dining choices, is how a regulation increasing restaurant costs will go over with a business atmosphere perceived to be less than helpful to local establishments.