The Morro Bay City Council considered an ordinance to ban Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) containers at its Sept. 8 meeting. If the ordinance passes, Morro Bay will become the second city in the county to institute such a ban, following San Luis Obispo’s earlier this year.
The council agreed that a ban should include to-go food containers as well as coolers and packing peanuts, but stopped short of banning all non-compostable, non-recyclable disposable containers. Public Services Director Rob Livick said the council members wanted more input from restaurants and packing businesses before agreeing on the scope of such an ordinance.
“This is the first rollout of this item,” Livick said. “So I we’ll be doing a lot of outreach. We’re talking such small numbers on the unit costs. We need to get a sense of how that affects the overall business.”
Meanwhile, the council voted to reach out to the SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA), to consider a countywide ban on EPS. The IWMA is the same agency that passed a plastic bag ban in the county. IWMA manager, Bill Worrell, said his agency considered an EPS ban several years ago, but decided not to pursue it. Worrell said the incentive for a regional ban on plastic bags was economic, not environmental.
“In that case, the Grocer’s Association came to us,” Morrell said.
According to Morrell, grocery stores that could hand out plastic bags had a competitive advantage over stores that were subject to citywide bans. There’s no such advantage for restaurants with EPS to-go containers.
Livick said the next step for Morro Bay is to engage business leaders and restaurant owners in the city. According to Livick, the city should have an ordinance to vote on by January 2016.