The Berkeley City Council continued its war on ozone-destroying plastic foam food containers by calling for a ban on nearly all foam cups, plates and burger holders.
Starting this September, the new proposal would ban any plastic foam containing chlorofluorocarbons or CFC, whether or not it is used for food, and outlaw all other plastic foam food packages starting in 1990.The only exception would be retail foam products such as picnic plates and cups sold in markets. Two years before the ban goes into effect, restaurants and food vendors will be asked to stop using the products and take other steps to reduce litter and garbage voluntarily.
The proposal was adopted Tuesday night on an 8-1 vote after nearly three hours of debate during which almost every speaker supported the plan.
Last September, the city banned plastic foam food packages containing CFC, chemical compounds linked to the depletion of Earth's ozone layer.
Now that the plastics industry has begun to phase out CFC, Councilwoman Nancy Skinner led the drive to expand that ordinance and adopt a companion measure eliminating most plastic foam food packages.
The measure is patterned after one passed earlier this year in Suffolk County on New York's Long Island, the first municipality in the nation to enact such a ban.
Skinner said she hoped twin anti-foam ordinances at opposite ends of the country would spark a nationwide trend.
"Berkeley alone doing this is not that significant," Skinner said, "but if we do it and it causes other cities to do it, and causes companies to change things, that's sigificiant.
"Since we first started talking about it, McDonald's has announced it wouldn't use products with CFC, so definitely it's had the effect many of us wanted it to have," she added.
Representatives of the plastics and fast-food industries lobbied vigorously against the Suffolk County law and again in Berkeley. A spokesman for the plastics industry complained such ordinances were singling them out unfairly.