City Follows up Plastic Bag Ban by Considering EPS Ban, Again

First it was plastic bags. Now the city of San Jose wants to declare death to all Styrofoam to-go containers.

The city’s Transportation and Environmental Committee approved a proposal Monday to have the City Council consider banning expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeout boxes in all restaurants. The proposal will go to the City Council in February. If accepted, EPS boxes will no longer be allowed in large restaurants as early as October 2013, as Councilmember Sam Liccardo’s memo recommends.

City staff has recommended that the ban, if approved, go into effect for large restaurants in January 2014 and other restaurants by 2015.

“This proposal has been discussed for years and it’s time to go forward,” said Liccardo, who chairs the Transportation and Environment committee.

Liccardo has included in his proposal several findings from a study on costs and effects of the ban. The proposal states that the costs for restaurants to switch from EPS to non-EPS would be “minimal,” roughly 1 to 3 cents. The proposal also argues that there is no way to effectively recycle EPS foodware due to food contamination.

To date, the proposal adds that since San Jose instituted its plastic bag ban in January, the number of plastic bags found in the city’s storm drains has decreased by 89 percent. River and creek cleanups show a 60 percent decrease in bags found, and bags found on city streets are down by 59 percent.

An EPS ban was supposed to coincide with the plastic bag ban that went into effect last January. The EPS ban was pushed back last December when DART—an EPS manufacturer—offered the city $100,000 to delay a decision for further studies. The council did not end up taking DART’s money, but it did delay a decision.

Similar to San Jose taking the lead on banning plastic bags, the city would also be one of just two municipalities in Santa Clara County that bans EPS—Palo Alto is the other. Sunnyvale is considering a ban at its Dec. 18 City Council meeting.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that San Jose would be the only city in Santa Clara County with a ban on EPS if approved by the council. San Jose Inside regrets the error.


  1. Our city council desperately needs to reset its priorities.  San Jose crumbles while our city council fiddles with bike lanes, to-go containers, and fake urban villages.  We need bold action now from our city council to address the shortage of police officers.

    • No Need – Mayor Reed, Liccardo, Constant, Oliverio, Nguyen and Herrera – soon Khamis will all tell you that San Jose is still a “safe place.”  They have well thought out “soundbites” to reassure you that all is well like:  “No amount of police would prevent the homicides that have occurred.” If you continue, they will say, “It isn’t our fault, we provide the police department with money for their budget – they decide how to spend it and how they deploy officers.” and they will always add “if it weren’t for those unions and their pensions San Jose would have been able to hire rather than layoff.” 

      The mayor and his have done a good job convincing the public that San Jose is Safe and if you don’t believe it is safe then you don’t know that the crime rate fluctuates with the percentage of base pay police officers can retire with.

      Sad part is people believe it – (and they vote).

      • I guess that they just dont understand , or just dont care that it takes a decent wage AND benefit package to Lure the very best candidates. It is obvious that with the Mass exodus of Public Safety that San Jose is no where near competitive with other jurisdictions. You only have to look at the quality of people that have left.

        You are correct , people in San Jose follow the Mayor ………..Blindly. Either people are lazy,couldnt be bothered,or dont give a F—-.Nobody bothers to educate themselves to the truth , its just easier to follow along. Well numbers dont lie ( Politicians Do !) Officers are leaving and Homicides are up as are , rape,burglaries, and violent crimes. Sooner or Later people will have no choice but to question what happened in San Jose?? only it will be to late.

  2. Personally, it enlightens me to know that the city is making moves toward addressing global and local environmental issues which will benefit future generations as well as current generations. This fosters not only the improvement of creek quality and diversion of pollution from waterways but also a shift in each consumer’s relationship with food. This is exemplary of San Jose’s awareness of its power to create and lead change not only in our community but also our influence and contribution in a greater movement toward sustainability county wide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide.
    I am also glad to hear others speak about the concern of other issues facing our city such as policing and crime because I did not consider that the time and effort it takes to push one policy may take away time and effort from other issues. I validate those views but I would like to respond by saying that we must consider that the intention of re-prioritizing the focuses of city is not simply to increase policing but to reduce crimes, especially violent ones. The reactionary punitive approach to suppressing crime is not the only solution. If you look into the causes of crime and how it is related to social deprivation and disintegration, you can find that by addressing the underlying factors that lead a person to commit a crime, you not only prevent crime and create a trend toward decreasing crime but you also benefit communities and personal well being within individuals who might have turned to crime. To end with an analogy, if we want less crime, we could support methods that would prevent the formations of criminals and if we want less plastic pollution, we could support policies that prevent that in the first place.

    • I would agree with you in principle. It’s better to get at the underlying causes of problems and prevent them at the source. But I’ve discovered that liberals are very selective about applying this philosophy. We’d all l;ike to have a cleaner and safer San Jose. So I’ll make the liberals a deal. I’ll support the ban on styrofoam if they support a ban on subsidized housing.

  3. I’d be all for outlawing styrofoam if the ban would prevent the city from hiring another styrofoam police chief. This city can’t afford to put its safety in the hands of yet another lightweight, hollow, disposable container: it needs a leader of substance, someone who’ll refuse to function as a leak-proof doggie bag for city hall’s putrid leftovers. Otherwise, very soon the only leftovers seen in this town will be the diners who can’t afford to travel to the safer restaurants of our neighboring cities.

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