Pittsfield Proposal Would Ban Foam Food Packaging

Environmental advocates are concerned about the use of polystyrene foam containers—most commonly used by restaurants as take out packaging. They say the foam does not break down in landfills, could cause pollution because it is made of petroleum and might produce toxins if incinerated. Foam materials are less expensive than paper products, making them attractive to restaurant operators. Rinaldo Del Gallo is a Pittsfield attorney who has asked the City Council to discuss the proposal. He says Great Barrington, which has banned foam packaging since 1990 has not seen any drop off in its restaurant business.

“If we can’t make small small sacrifices like a small increase of like a penny or two for a cup of coffee, or, you know, having a paper and wax container to take your soup home instead of styrofoam, if we can’t make those tiny small sacrifices for the environment, how are we going to make the big ones?”

But City Councilor Christopher Connell says he has heard from a number of Pittsfield business owners who say the change might hurt their bottom line. And he says such a measure would be difficult to implement on a city-by-city basis.

“I would like to see it done nationally. Once it’s done nationally, what it does is it forces manufacturers to make the paper products or the replacements for the styrofoam containers more affordable especially for the small businesses.”

The proposal will go before the Pittsfield City Council’s Ordinance and Rules Committee next month.