Oxford Styrofoam ban may take effect in January

By Stella Beerman

Polystyrene food containers, commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam, may soon disappear from The City of Oxford.

Polystyrene containers such as these could be banned in Oxford in 2022. Observer file photo

Oxford passed a ban on the containers in Oxford back in February 2020, which was to have gradually phased out their use by Dec. 31, 2021. But, the ban was then superseded by Ohio Senate Bill 242, which limited the enactment of local laws against single-use plastics. The state bill passed and was signed by the governor last year.

However, the state’s ban against such local ordinances is due to expire Jan. 15. If the legislature does not extend that law, Oxford’s rule against the containers will become effective, according to the city’s weekly report. 

Foodservice operations within the city will be given 30 days to comply with the ban if the local ordinance is reinstated, the report says. Polystyrene is widely used in the food services industry carryout containers and coffee cups because of its insulating and cushioning properties. But it also raises environmental concerns because it can take up to 500 years to biodegrade, according to a 2016 study done at St. Louis University. Cardboard food containers, by comparison, take only a few months or less to decompose. 

The polystyrene also easily crumbles into tiny particles that can be toxic when ingested by wildlife. 

Miami University switched from polystyrene to cardboard food containers two years ago and some local businesses also have discontinued using plastic products. However, it does remain in use at many local businesses.

Recent interruptions in the national supply chain have also caused temporary delays in re-ordering some Styrofoam products one local restaurant manager told the Observer last month

Six states, including Virginia, New York and Vermont, have complete bans of the material while 13 states have at least one city or county with a polystyrene ban, according to WebstaurantStore, a blog for the restaurant industry.