Why Mpls Restaurants Have Been Reluctant To Ditch Foam

The city is banning Styrofoam takeout containers—but why haven’t restaurants already made the switch to greener alternatives?

The Minneapolis City Council recently voted to adopt stricter guidelines for restaurants, aimed primarily at banning containers made of polystyrene, commonly referred to by the brand name Styrofoam. The changes will take effect April 22, 2015.

But what has kept more local eateries from adopting greener alternatives on their own, without a municipal mandate?

More than a year ago, Twin Cities Business asked that very question, finding that Styrofoam and plastic options are significantly cheaper, at least for carryout containers. Dorothy Wicklund of Minneapolis-based Trio Supply Company—which provides both biodegradable and eco-friendly takeout containers for many local restaurants, schools, and other businesses—told TCB at the time that many eateries adopt eco-friendly options to begin with but soon switch to non-recyclables, due to the major cost savings.

Reached Tuesday by phone, Wicklund told TCB that certain biodegradable options cost about 27 to 29 cents—compared to eight or nine cents for Styrofoam containers. “It’s a big increase in cost for the end user, and it’s going to effect the bottom line,” she said, adding that she’s concerned about biodegradable options increasing even further in price as cheaper alternatives are banned.

That said, there is a wide array of local suppliers offering diverse biodegradable packaging options. Learn more here.

The Star Tribune more closely examined the new packaging rules and, citing Council Member Andrew Johnson, said that there could be as many as 10 million polystyrene containers in Minneapolis trash each year. For more details, find the full ordinance here.