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Paso Robles and Atascadero businesses adapting to San Luis Obispo County Styrofoam ban

Posted at 7:14 PM, Oct 14, 2019

It's out with Styrofoam and in with biodegradable containers for businesses in Paso Robles and Atascadero.

Those two cities are the only cities in San Luis Obispo County without their own municipal Styrofoam ban. Now they have to conform to a countywide ordinance passed by the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) last week.

At Paradise Grill, formerly known as Wilson’s Restaurant, a local favorite, uneaten breakfast food goes home in Styrofoam boxes, but not for long.

Soon, the restaurant will have to rely on the other types of take-out containers they have.

The owners say it might impact prices.

"It’s definitely more expensive,” said Esmerelda Jimenez, whose family owns Paradise Grill. “It does affect it if that's all we're going to have to get.”

Jimenez says her family also uses eco-friendly and plastic containers, but some customers prefer Styrofoam.

“They don't like to get the boxes that are more like cardboard because it gets soggy,” Jimenez said.

Food providers would be eligible for a one-year exemption if they can prove that the ordinance will create a hardship on their business.

Another local restaurant owner says she never considered Styrofoam despite it being an industry staple when she opened Thomas Hill Organics nearly 10 years ago.

"One-thousand Styrofoam cups cost you $25. One-thousand biodegradable, probably $100,” said Debbie Thomas, owner of Thomas Hill Organics. “So the difference over the course of a year really isn't that much money."

The City of Paso Robles is now looking to add an ordinance of its own.

Mayor Steven Martin says it’s something the city has considered in the past, but council members wanted to see what the IWMA would do.

“[A city ordinance] would give us local enforcement authority,” Martin said. “If there were penalties, we would charge those penalties, etc. The downside to that is that it takes manpower.”

Atascadero city leaders say they will not consider their own separate ordinance.

The City of San Luis Obispo was the first to ban Styrofoam in the county in 2015, followed by Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, and Morro Bay.