Following a largely symbolic county supervisors vote Tuesday, an ordinance taking shape here in Sonoma County could ban Styrofoam.
A vote could come as soon as next month to take affect January 1st. Promoted as environmentally friendly, the proposal also aims to reduce the amount of trash heading for the landfill. The vote Tuesday unanimously adopted the county's Zero Waste resolution, setting targets and goals. Now comes the hard part---creating rules that make those goals reality.
The first of those, set for discussion mid-September, would make county-wide a ban on polystyrene or Styrofoam already in place in seven of the county's cities. Along with to-go containers, the ban would cover items such as packing peanuts and Styrofoam coolers.
While change might cause disruption, it can be done. Anna Maria Gonzalez, office manager of Community Market, a natural food store in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, said the grocer and café has been using recyclable and compostable containers for years. She said products have improved.
"We had some issues with some of the containers not sealing ideally, so we had to switch them out, but nowadays there's such a variety to choose from. Ten years ago it was difficult and expensive to get compostable containers and cutlery regularly, but right now there's such a demand for it that there's constantly new innovations."
Once sold at a premium, she said pricing of compostable containers is now more comparable. But, they aren't entirely equal.
"I'm unaware of containers that can hold in heat the same way as Styrofoam or thicker plastic can."
While much of the local public probably won't object to new containers, a bigger shift will be needed, Gonzalez says, before the public embraces bringing their own re-usable containers...post-pandemic, of course.
"I think that there's a misconception that it's not as clean if you don't have a fresh, brand new container each time. So, I think that's kind of a cultural hump that we'll have to get over."