Millbrae to weigh Styrofoam ban

While a proposed citywide ban on Styrofoam and other nonbiodegradable containers has been a popular idea for months, some downtown businesses — particularly those with lunchtime crowds — are unsure how they will be affected.

Millbrae businesses are scheduled to meet today to discuss the city’s desire to ban food containers made of Styrofoam. The ban is part of an effort dubbed Sustainable Millbrae, in which the city takes steps, with ordinances such as the Styrofoam ban, to be as environmentally friendly as possible. If a ban is approved, businesses could be fined anywhere from $100 to $500.

Chamber of Commerce President John Ford said the main concern is the cost for businesses, particularly independently owned food establishments, to switch to a Styrofoam or polystyrene alternative.

Ford said larger fast-food chains such as Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell have already shifted to paper products. Jamba Juice, on the other hand, says that because of the need to insulate smoothies, Styrofoam appeared to be the best option, according to the manager of Jamba Juice on Broadway — who wanted to be identified only as Christy.

Still, Christy said Jamba Juice stores in other cities — including Berkeley and Oakland — that have banned Styrofoam products have adhered to city and county regulations by using paper cups.

“It’s not too common, but the company has catered to the rules in the past,” she said.

The City Council this week received an update on the Sustainable Millbrae program, which has already earned kudos from the Sierra Club and may come up for City Council approval in September. City Manager Ralph Jaeck acknowledged that Styrofoam products are going to filter into the city, as part of a larger food or electronics shipment from out of Millbrae’s borders. Therefore, as part of the program, Jaeck said Millbrae is also encouraging residents to contact electronics retailers and request that no Styrofoam packing be used in their shipments.

The Chamber of Commerce meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. today at El Super Burrito, 780 El Camino Real.

tramroop@examiner.com


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