City Council Passes Styrofoam Ban

Peter Nierengarten, the director of sustainability and parking for Fayetteville, endorses the ordinance to ban polystyrene foam products Nov. 5 at the Fayetteville City Council meeting. Council members voted unanimously 8-0.

The Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the use of expanded polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) products by restaurants, hotels, caterers and shops in the city.

The eight city council members passed the ordinance after just five minutes of discussion.  Peter Nierengarten, environmental director for the Fayetteville Sustainability Department, and Councilwoman Teresa Turk (Ward 4), endorsed the legislation on behalf of the Fayetteville Environmental Action Committee (EAC).

“I really commend the sustainability group and also the Environmental Action Committee for moving this forward,” Turk said. “Clearly we have a problem here, and I think this will go a very long way of at least reducing our consumption of Styrofoam.”

Citing a 2016 study from the Green Dining Alliance titled “The Real Cost of Styrofoam,” Turk noted that it takes an estimated 500 years for Styrofoam to decompose, and Styrofoam products make up at least 25% of the volume of American landfills.

The new law, which goes into effect May 1, 2020, prohibits restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, convenience stores and caterers from serving food or drinks in single-use Styrofoam products.  Such products include, but are not limited to, plates, bowls, clamshells and cups. Consumers can still buy Styrofoam products for personal use in any store that sells them.

Tuesday’s vote comes four days after a less extensive ban on Styrofoam products took effect in Fayetteville. The prior regulations, passed May 21, prohibit the purchase and distribution of single-use Styrofoam products by city departments or any company operating on city-owned land.

No members of the public chose to comment on the legislation at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan briefly commended the ordinance and thanked the EAC for their work on it before calling the final vote.

Sarah Komar is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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