SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The city of San Jose is reaching out to restaurants about a likely ban on polystyrene containers since they’re the last major Bay Area city without a ban on the synthetic insulator.

Many restaurants still use polystyrene – commonly referred to by the brand name Styrofoam – packaging and containers, but the city is trying to give them alternatives to the substance, which is harmful to the environment.

Paul Lao runs Bo Town in downtown San Jose, a Chinese eatery, and opposes any mandatory change. He said he’d like the city to find a way to recycle the foam.

A vote of the city council set for next month and for the city’s Trash Reduction Coordinator, Paul Ledesma, it can’t come soon enough.

“When a Styrofoam cup gets into the storm drain system and then gets into the creek, it breaks up into small pieces very quickly. It’s very difficult to clean up,” Ledesma said.

Often times the Styrofoam is mistaken for food and eaten by wildlife, he added.

The Environmental Services Department has been meeting with restaurants and others to explain the implications of the likely ban.

So far the top option for an alternative to Styrofoam appears to be paper.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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