Proposed Regulations on Use of Expanded Polystyrene

Summary


The Avon Town Council will soon consider an ordinance that, if enacted, would prohibit food vendors from using disposable food service ware made out of expanded polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam) when providing prepared food to their patrons. Similar legislation was proposed, reviewed and ultimately tabled by the Town Council in 2017. 

This latest initiative stems from the Town Council’s adoption of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community, which reflects a strong commitment to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions and even speaks to the reduction of expanded polystyrene. Expanded polystyrene, also known as EPS or polystyrene foam, is a common pollutant and a threat to natural ecosystems that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are difficult to clean up and can harm marine life and other wildlife. The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to reduce the amount of polystyrene foam food service ware litter in the environment and to achieve the Town’s environmental objectives. It is important to the Town Council that you are aware of the proposal and have the opportunity to become informed of the proposed changes and participate in the discussion. The following information is intended to meet those objectives.

The Town Council has discussed the possibility that the proposed ordinance to be structured in a way that, if approved, would only go into effect if Colorado Revised Statute 25-17-104 is repealed by the Colorado General Assembly during the 2020 legislative session. Section 25-17-104, C.R.S. prohibits local governments from requiring or prohibiting “the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products” or restricting or mandating “containers, packaging, or labeling for any consumer products.”

In addition to the direction for preparation of a new ordinance, staff was directed to implement rules prohibiting the purchase or use of expanded polystyrene products and other plastic products on Town property during special events and during day-to-day Town operations. Staff was also asked to initiate the process of contacting state legislators to encourage the repeal of Section 25-17-104, C.R.S. 

Proposed Ordinance


The proposed ordinance would prohibit food vendors within the Town of Avon from using EPS disposable food service ware when providing “prepared food.” The most salient points of the ordinance worth highlighting are as follows:
  • “Prepared food” means food or beverages, which are serviced, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared.
  • Food vendor is defined as “any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual, including licensed retail food establishments, that provides prepared food at a retail level.” This includes all types of food establishments, full service restaurants as well as fast food restaurants.
  • Food vendors would be prohibited from using disposable food service ware, including but not limited to plates, cups, bowls, trays and hinged or lidded containers, also known as clamshells, that are made of polystyrene foam. This does not include straws, utensils, or cup lids nor does it include disposable packaging for unprepared foods.
  • The proposed ordinance does not affect prepackaged foods, meaning any properly labeled processed food, prepackaged to prevent any direct human contact with the food product upon distribution from the manufacturer.

Alternative Containers


Alternatives to EPS disposable food service ware that are less harmful to the environment include reusable containers and compostable items. These alternatives may sometimes be purchased at competitive prices, but are typically 2-4 times more expensive per unit compared to EPS products. Click HERE to view a price comparison between various food service ware products made of polystyrene foam and ones made out of oriented polystyrene and compostable/biodegradable materials. Well-performing compostable food service ware is available from a variety of manufacturers, typically through vendors that offer a wide array of food service products. Click HERE to view a list of vendors that sell recyclable and compostable food service ware. If the proposed ordinance is enacted, the list is intended to assist Avon food vendors that are not currently in compliance with the proposed ordinance.


Proposed Schedule and How to Comment


First reading of the ordinance banning certain uses of expanded polystyrene is currently scheduled for the November 12th Town Council meeting. The Town Council will take public comment at the November 12th Town Council meeting. Written comments may also be submitted prior to November 8th at noon. Comments should be emailed to Brenda Torres, Town Clerk, at btorres@avon.org. All submitted comments will be included in the public record and will be reviewed by the Town Council. If you have questions, please contact Preston Neill, Deputy Town Manager, at pneill@avon.org or (970)748-4404.