SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Foam food containers are closer to becoming a thing of the past in San Jose after the city council voted Tuesday to pursue phasing out polystyrene foam use in the city’s restaurants.

By a 9-2 vote, the council will now move forward with the process. City officials still have to provide an environmental impact report, which could take months, although the ban could be in place by next year.

“To date, almost 60 California cities have banned EPS foamware at food restaurants, including San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont,” said Kerrie Romanow, San Jose Environmental Service Director. “This past January, Sunnyvale joined Palo Alto and unincorporated Santa Clara in enacting a ban and at least four other South Bay cities are actively considering action.”

She said that polystyrene foam, often referred to by the trademark name ‘Styrofoam,’ is especially difficult to clean up once it gets into creeks, streams and the bay, which harms marine life.

However, restaurant owners and other critics argued at the city council meeting that this type of ban will be costly for their businesses.

“This proposal unfairly targets and is an anti-small business measure that will significantly impact hundreds of mom-and-pop restaurants,” said Javier Gonzales with the California Restaurant Association. “A phased-in approach will not change the fact that these businesses bottom line will be hurt.”

The EIR is expected to be presented to Mayor Chuck Reed, who supports pursuing the ban, in the coming months with a vote for final approval from the city council after that.

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