Styrofoam products trashed for good at county-run facilities

With Styrofoam food containers permanently scrapped, San Mateo County supervisors on Tuesday turned their attention to their next environmental project: a “green collar” job training program for the county’s unemployed.

Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to ban polystyrene foam and other nonrecyclable plastics on county property — including jails, the San Mateo Medical Center and its clinics, government buildings and the San Mateo Event Center. The ban, which is considered a first step to possibly outlawing Styrofoam in all unincorporated areas, also applies to vendors.

Supervisors also unanimously approved a separate resolution convening a Green Works Summit — the first step to creating the job training and placement program. Business owners, county and environmental officials will attend the summit.

The program will place those who may have barriers to employment —such as a criminal record or a lack of English skills — into manual labor jobs at eco-friendly businesses, said Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, who proposed the legislation.

“We want to get in on the ground floor of what will be an emerging job market. We don’t want those without business degrees and college educations left behind,” she said.

San Mateo County Human Services Agency Director Beverly Beasley Johnson said the county’s unemployment rate hovers at 4.2 percent, but it is much higher in the Peninsula’s pockets of poverty. In East Palo Alto, employment is 10.3 percent. In the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of unincorporated Redwood City, it stands at 10.3 percent, and it is just morethan 5 percent in Half Moon Bay.

tbarak@examiner.com

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